I just saw a Facebook post from Ben & Jerry’s. Yes, the ice cream company. They posted a graphic that said, “$6 billion was spent on the 2012 election. I’d rather have spent it on_____” and they asked for replies. Of course, my immediate reply was “childhood cancer research.”
Then I started to really think about it. Everyone reading this blog post had to have been bombarded by telephone calls, television commercials, telephone calls, web banners, telephone calls, direct mail advertisements, emails, emails, emails, emails, and, did I mention, telephone calls?
Political Action Committees alone spent millions and millions of dollars to ensure that the man behind Obamacare would be voted out. Never mind all those families with kids fighting cancer who depend on the health-care provisions that Obamacare provides to keep their precious children alive. Screw them. Let’s buy the presidency and make sure our wealthy friends are protected from tax increases and the unfair burden of having to give their employees health care. And Obama’s camp spent millions and millions of dollars making sure to communicate that they wanted to protect the very people that the PACS were trying to throw under the bus.
It was a fun election.
As an advertising professor, this process baffles me, because what the political advertisers in this election did is something that I would NEVER teach my students to do. I teach them the concept of saturation, and as students and consumers, they get it. They know that people need to be exposed to a message a certain number of times (typically three, sometimes more, depending on the message) before they begin to process the content of the message. The more they are exposed to a message, the more they actually “hear” the message’s content and truly learn what the ad is trying to convey. Then there comes a point at which the message becomes annoying. The saturation point. Continuing to advertise after saturation has occurred actually leads consumers to have negative feelings toward the product being advertised and is detrimental to sales.
Lord knows, the same is true for political ads. Except that the saturation point comes MUCH sooner with political ads. Mine came in early September.
So think about this…$6 billion was spent on two candidates trying to win an election. Most of that money was spent during, say, the final 2 or 3 weeks of the campaign. AFTER most people had reached complete and total saturation. Any advertiser worth anything would say the money was wasted.
And yet, that’s where the money was spent.
I’ve seen amazing interviews of Dr. Giselle Sholler. She is attempting to pioneer groundbreaking research to try and find a cure for neuroblastoma. The only thing that stops her is lack of funding. Imagine what Dr. Sholler could do with $6 billion dollars. Heck, imagine what she could do with $6 million dollars. Or even $600,000.
How can we live in a country that allows political candidates to spend such obscene amounts of money–breaking pretty much every cardinal rule of advertising in the process–when CHILDREN ARE DYING BECAUSE there is NO FUNDING for research to CURE THEIR CANCER? And why don’t people understand this?
It’s simple lack of awareness. I believe that when you strip away all the campaigning crap and just look at the two guys who ran for president, both are compassionate, decent men. If either was standing in front of a dying Isabella Santos or Ronan Thompson or Ty Campbell or Ezra Matthews or Jack Bartosz or Avalanna Routh or Sal Vanni or Ariel Gariano or Lane Goodwin or Knox Thomas (I could go on for a long time here…), neither would be able to walk away and do nothing. I believe that both men, outside of the political arena, would do what they could to help find a cure for these dying children. They’re just not aware. I have to believe that they, like so many others, believe that childhood cancer is rare and that when it does happen, it’s just a little chemo and a lot of bald, smiling faces.
Thankfully, the crusading moms and dads of several of the children mentioned above are fighting every day to raise awareness and make sure the White House and the entire country is lit up in gold next September. They’re out there trying to get the media to cover their stories and teach people about what childhood cancer REALLY is. Erin Santos. Maya and Woody Thompson. Cindy Campbell. Silvia Vanni. They’ve all been successful in getting the word out via newspapers, TV, radio, and, of course, via the web.
Imagine if they had $6 billion to spend on advertising. They could really get the word out then. Except they would never spend money on something as frivolous as advertising.
They’d put the money toward finding a cure for the cancers that killed their children.
Wouldn’t it be great if they had that opportunity?