Posted by: Donna Z. Davis, Ph.D. | May 6, 2014

Would love your thoughts

Given what we’ve been talking about in class the past couple of weeks — especially understanding our audiences and finding the right voice and tone to represent our narratives, what do you all think about this PSA campaign?


  1. For the purpose of getting people who won’t otherwise pay attention to take notice, deliberately adopting the wrong tone and voice might work in the short term. But it’s a very short window because it’s all about the novelty and the disjuncture. You also don’t want to risk the perception among people who do care about the issue that you’re trivializing a very serious situation.

  2. The “bait and switch” approach of this PSA, while novel, fails for two reasons. First, it wastes thirty seconds of valuable time setting up the viewer when it could be talking about the actual issue. What is the story here, besides that there are messages that models cannot make sexy?
    Second, depending on how informed the audience is the producer risk viewers identifying with the duped models, further occluding a message that was entirely clear from the beginning.

  3. I do think people will watch this in its entirety. I also think that people will remember this, and potentially talk about it with others (though maybe not in a positive way). I think they will remember the issue.

    But I don’t think it will motivate them to become advocates for Save the Children. I don’t think it will necessarily increase awareness in a way that will benefit the organization or its cause.

  4. Save the Children is a brand that has offered a very diverse campaign voice from their inception. Please see the ad from Stephen Hawking as an excellent example:

    I would imagine that excerpts of the the video that Donna posted have been used with some success because they are really well done. It’s compelling to listen to a beautiful person deliver a touching message. I found it brilliant.

    I was also drawn into the visceral reaction of the models to the unsexy message, but I don’t imagine that is what was intended for public consumption. It makes another compelling sort of reality TV moment.

    On another note, I continue to be impressed with how Save the Children is able to draw people in with tiny donations. Have any strategic communication students reading this ever heard of them–or donated to the cause? If so, what compelled you to give? If you have heard of them, but turned down the donation, what made you say no?

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