Ads to inspire FEEEEAR

7 Feb

I’m alarmed by the growing trend in marketing tactics.

On my way home from work the other evening, I came upon one of the city’s largest billboards.  It’s in a prime location, situated at a difficult intersection and a guaranteed 4-minute minimum wait.  I typically check out the billboard because a) it’s the only thing to look at, and b) it usually features some terrible jewelry advertisement with an incredibly awkward-looking model and I look forward to making fun of how terrible it is.   However, this time I was afronted by a picture of a hearse with a tiny, white, flower-adorned casket in the back with big, bold letters stating,

“Your baby belongs in a crib, not a casket.”

The culprit?   An organization called Cribs for Kids, which offers free portable cribs to families in Allegheny County who cannot afford one.    It is the same organization to thank for the video shown to new parents in every birthing hospital in Allegheny County and the signed acknowledgement that follows.   In October of last year, a bill was passed that made it a requirement not just for Allegheny County, but for every birthing hospital in Pennsylvania

Apparently a lot of parents like to sleep with their cute little babies and then the cute little babies die.  

I understand it’s a preventable tragedy – and I understand that they’re attempting a marketing tactic that will shock folks and make them remember.   After all, everyone remembers a picture of a dead baby.  Just think of the last time you passed a hospital that performs abortions and had protestors outside.  Remember the pictures?  *Shudder* I do.

So I get it, Cribs for Kids – I really do.  There is a pressing need to educate new parents about the danger of not plopping their cute little pudgy wudgy baby within the confines of a crib.  And I think it’s a wonderful cause.   But I think that if you put a little more brain power behind it, you could come up with something clever instead of frightening.  It takes a little more effort, but wit sticks with people too.   The fact of the matter is that you want people to receive your message with an open mind and to accept it.  Unfortunately, with billboards like this, a picture of a dead baby in a casket is what people will associate with you.  Not such a good first impression.

So anyway, I carried on with my life, made a joke to Dave, and continued on home…where I turned on the T.V. and was greeted by an advertisement for Bosley Hair Restoration.   I came in at the tail end, just in time to catch the words:

“Every day you wait, you’re losing more hair.”


…Le Sigh.


If you want to read more about the billboard and the work of Cribs for Kids, check out this article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

2 Responses to “Ads to inspire FEEEEAR”

  1. pegoleg February 7, 2011 at 10:19 am #

    I’m with you about selling fear. But…

    I know somebody who rolled over on her newborn. There’s just no clever and witty way to talk about a baby dying.


    • Jackie February 7, 2011 at 5:15 pm #

      Good point – it’s truly just an awful thing – I suppose “wit” and “clever” are associated with lightheartedness and it’s a very heavy consequence. I do feel like the discussion can be had in a different tone, however. Perhaps one that focuses on how cherished a tiny little life is and protecting it rather than skipping right to the baby casket.

      But I can’t deny that because of that billboard, I looked up who the company was, read an article and wrote a blog… so it’s doing its job regardless of whether or not I like it 😉


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