Have you ever seen the ASPCA’s television spot that uses negative advertising? My opinion is that it pushes the envelope. While every dog I’ve ever had has been a rescue, I don’t support advertising that, in my opinion, pushes the bounds in taste and hooking your emotions. (The picture you see here is our current rescue, Jake.)
I realize that others would disagree with me strongly. Some say that if the ads were not that engaging no one would step up to rescue animals. Some say that whether the public has a positive or a negative reaction to a piece of advertising is irrelevant – that the fact people are talking about the ad is the goal either way.
A few months ago I noticed a thread on Facebook about these very ads. The comments were overwhelming negative, even though most (if not all) of the commenters are dog lovers who have rescued many strays. Here are some of the comments.
- I change the station.
- I change the station, it makes me not want to watch this channel at all.
- The ASPCA could get their point across without being so heart-wretching.
- I can’t take those commercials.
- I’m an animal lover and donate to three different organizations but these ads make me wonder if any money actually gets to the animals at all.
- I will not donate to the ASPCA based on these ads.
- Every animal I’ve ever had has been a rescue. And I donate to animal shelters all the time. But I seriously would never give money to the ASPCA because of these ads.
As you can read for yourself, the ASPCA has actually lost the goodwill of potential donors due to running these ads. The organization may argue that there are more people spurred to donate than those who refuse to donate after seeing the ads. But when I see comments like these from people who are active donors it makes me think the ads are a bad idea.
What do you think? Have you seen these sad and emotionally gutting ads yourself? Do you watch them? Do they cause you to donate? (If you have not seen the ads you can find one on YouTube by clicking here.)
I believe advertising should be honest and needs to be compelling and engaging. But I also believe a business can advertise without pushing the bounds of what people find disturbing. I’d probably recast the ads with different background music, some of the same pictures of animals, and a brief note talking about what percentage of the money actually goes to the animals and what percent to administrative costs. To me the negative reactions to some of their ads outweighs the possible benefits. Would you engage in negative advertising? I’d love to hear your opinions below.