"This is for the guys who still think that the only way to market is through explaining product benefits and price advantages. Because being more human and showing that you are different, with personality and purpose, is even more important."
That's the commentary attached to the message on this bottle by Hugh McLeod (aka @gapingvoid) -- Advertising is the cost of being boring.
I am extending that sentiment to all the public health and behavior change communicators who think social change is largely dependent on the size of their advertising budgets. Who still believe that if they design the right message, and address the cost-benefit trade-off for engaging in new behaviors in just the right way, people will change. That if they only had another multiple of their current budget, the world would be a better and safer place. I find this attitude in all types of contexts, from people working in a developing country, developed nations such as the the US and New Zealand, and more recently in social media (Facebook ads seem particularly interesting these days).
I use to think that people resorted to advertising campaigns because they believed they worked; more often now it seems advertising campaigns are used more to satisfy stakeholders and politicians. And in the event where neither of these may be the true cause, I think Hugh nails it here: using advertising campaigns for social change is the cost of being boring, of not finding what excites people, of not being appealing to people because…well, we don't know how to, or can't...or won't.
Too many people think of mass media campaigns and paid advertising as the road to success. But Larry Wallach, a pioneer of media advocacy, talked about the 'mass media fallacy' of believing that any social or health problem can be adequately addressed so long as the right message is delivered to the right people in the right way and at the right time.
To all of those believers, I raise this bottle…