Ad asks donors to give hope for free

24 Nov

I am a fan of Stupid Nonprofit Ads, an entertaining series run by Jeff Brooks. From time to time I’ve stumbled upon ads worthy of a place in that gallery. I usually sigh and move on. But I couldn’t let this one pass.

The ad does have the ubiquitous photograph of a happy child. Yes, people give money because they want to put a child like Sarita in school.

But the slogan has me puzzled. “Higher education might be expensive, but hope is still for free.”

What does that really mean? Does it mean that higher education is expensive and that therefore my Rs 500 will not help much? Or does it mean that I can get away with being sympathetic instead of donating money? “Please don’t give us any money; just give us hope, ‘cos hope is for free!”

The copy doesn’t make things better. I like ads that draw a clear picture in my head of the problem I will help change.

What I find here is a page of information about the organisation, written in NGO-speak. The second page has the story (at last!), but in poorly written, white-on-blue justified copy. After the story, the spiel about the organisation from Page 1 is repeated. Every word of it.

Abstract slogan. Too much navel gazing in the copy.

When I see ads like this, I don’t blame the non-profit. I get upset with the agency. What prompted the agency to put out an ad like this? Usually, agencies get carried away by a ‘clever’ concept. This concept can hardly be called clever. So, was it just a case of not caring enough to do better?

A senior adman I met last weekend said that his agency ‘dabbled’ in pro bono charity work because it ‘gave the creative guys something to do!’

Seriously, good causes deserve better. Not hope for free.

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