Last week I spent most of the week home with the flu. When you’re that sick, you usually either sleep or curl up under a blanket and watch television. I did plenty of both, let me tell you. While I had all this time on my hands, I also did some pondering on advertising that works, specifically advertising geared towards helping pets.
So, as I was laying there one afternoon, debating about whether or not I’d rather be alive or dead, a commercial came on for a very popular national animal welfare organization. If you live in the US and maybe Canada, you’re probably familiar with it when Sarah McLachlan comes on and sings “Arms of the Angel” as images of miserable dogs and cats scroll across the screen. It made me think I’d rather be dead and out of my suffering.
I tune that commercial out or change the channel every time it comes on. It does not make me want to “help an animal in need.” It makes me want to take a bottle of sleeping pills and kiss the cruel world good bye. I don’t think it helps this organization at all, and while I know that they make a lot of money from donations, I think more people would pay to never seen that ad again than because they’re moved to help. The sad part is that very little of the money donated actually goes to help animals. Most of it pays salaries and buys more ad space. A lot of well meaning people get sucked in and part with money that isn’t going where they think it is.
It reminded me of an ad that I saw that did make me want to help animals, though. Truth be told, it made me wish I could go out and adopt one very specific Greyhound named Silky Socks. To me, it’s an excellent example of advertising done right. I wish that more adoption groups and agencies went about promotions that made people happy and offered what they want. I have no idea who ended up being lucky enough to adopt Silky Socks, but I am sure she ended up in a good home. I also suspect that eight years later, her video still inspires people to adopt, even though she is no longer available to adopt.
My point is that I wish more groups that are trying to appeal to people to donate money or get them to adopt appeal to them in a way that doesn’t turn them off. Everyone has their own preferences, but I question whether making people want to cry with your advertising actually gets results. I prefer to donate to local groups or groups that I know are doing good work for the animals in their care as opposed to a national group that takes care of their bottom line before spending their money on finding homes for the animals in their care.