An Indirect Approach Hits Harder

We have all seen those commercials for charities that make us want to look away, change the channel, or perhaps do what the makers intend: pick up the phone and call to donate. The screen shuffles through the sad faces of starving children or the dejected faces of abused puppies or kittens. These commercials surely impact us emotionally and we do feel bad that we aren’t doing more. Sometimes it seems that the commercials make people feel so bad that they don’t want to donate because they were given such a negative feeling from viewing it.

Today, I came across a TV spot with the goal of charitable donations as well, but instead of using the brute force of guilt and pity, they approached it in a clever manner. The spot does make the viewer feel somewhat guilty, but it sucks them in and generates curiosity before doing so. The commercial entails a monkey being put in a cage by itself. Another monkey is then brought into the room next to the cage and given food. The monkey on the outside, having never met the monkey on the inside, frees it from the cage so it can join him/her for the meal.

The segment is meant to generate donations to help children with cleft lip and it shows that we instinctively want to help others, while instilling that bit of guilt in our minds when we think we may not be as good as those monkeys.

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