Two smart bloggers I follow both wrote recently about scare tactics that bothered them in different ad campaigns.
Marilyn Mann wrote, “Heart & Stroke Foundation ‘make death wait’ campaign: effective advocacy or unnecessary scare tactics?” She posted a TV ad, but also this print ad at left, and wrote:
“…the print ad… has appeared in a Canadian magazine. The copy, in case you can’t make it out, reads as follows:
Death loves menopause. He loves that menopause makes women more vulnerable to heart disease and stroke. And that women are far more likely to die of a heart attack. Most of all, he loves that heart disease and stroke is the #1 killer of women. Please donate, and make death wait.
Is this a legitimate way to “wake up” people to the threat of cardiovascular disease? Or unnecessary and counterproductive scare tactics? I lean toward the latter.”
Then, separately, and on a completely different topic, Laura Newman wrote on her Patient POV blog, “Health Disparities and Behavior Change: A Plea To Stop the Attack Ads.” In it, she wrote about several ads including the one at right:
“Another NYC Department of Health spot features an obese black model with a photoshopped, amputated leg to drive home the point that, if you eat supersize portions, you could end up with diabetes and a leg amputation.”
She concludes her piece:
“Many people may think whatever it takes to get people to stop smoking, lose weight, and maintain a normal weight, it is worth it. I disagree. I’d like to see the science that backs these kinds of ad campaigns before they are disseminated any more widely. I don’t think that shaming people who smoke or eat too much for their own good is an acceptable strategy. I can’t believe that a stimulus like this is durable either. If ads like this really work and they don’t harm, researchers ought to share the data. But so far, I just hear empty claims – no outcomes data, no follow-up. If people are motivated to quit smoking or adopt a healthier data as a result of the ads, where is the data?”
Mann’s post resulted in a healthy string of comments in reaction on her blog. Newman’s probably will, as well. We welcome your comments below.