Where are the priorities?

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?

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5 Responses to Where are the priorities?

  1. Ariella says:

    Wonderful post! Doesn’t it make you sick? 6 Billion dollars, and it is sad that you said they are not aware. These are the leaders of their country, and they are not aware? Makes me want to throw up!

  2. Paula Anderson says:

    Wow! You really hit the nail on the head. I hope your post makes it to Washington.

  3. Ariella says:

    I have thought about this post all day and I must say that I am so Fucking Angry! Im sorry if I offend anyone, but I am. I am sitting here in my kitchen watching the movie November Christmas. It is a Hallmark Christmas movie and in this movie, the little girl has cancer. They are not sure if she is going to make it so they give her an early Christmas. I remember a post Cindy had made about coming home and the house was decorated for Christmas. Don’t quote me on that, but neighbors or family did something special, and it hit me. How many parents are going to be burying their children these upcoming holidays. What about the parents that already buried their kids and now have to spend every single day without them. All the children that suffer and do not have normal childhoods. Ty, the little boy that changed my life forever just wanted to jump in muddy puddles and do things little boys do and he couldn’t do that because of fucking cancer. So many peoples priorities are out of whack. What is wrong with this world? Why hasn’t the White house or NFL acknowledged Pediatric Cancer? I am enraged! Something needs to be done about this. Kids are fucking dying and there are so many who aren’t doing jack shit about it. It makes me sick. Things need to change right now, not tomorrow, not in a year, right now.

    • alyselancaster says:

      Ariella, It’s so funny that you mention that movie. My mom was just this morning telling me that she watched it yesterday. I, too thought about Ty. I also thought about a 14-year-old girl named Ariel Rose Gariano. Like the fictional girl in this movie, her family moved up Halloween and was planning Christmas for this Sunday. Unfortunately, Ariel was not able to even get into her Halloween costume and the family has moved her to Hospice care, as she is in constant pain and because of the disease spreading like wildfire, she can’t even see the presents her parents bought her. You can read her heartbreaking story on her Caring Bridge page (http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/ariel_gariano/journal).

      One thing I saw today that made me happy was a video showing a little girl named Brooke with neuroblastoma, who, thanks to Dr. Sholler and funding from Dell, is undergoing a new experimental treatment that shows great promise. Here’s the link:

      Things are changing. Slowly, yes, but at least things are starting to happen. I hope to do everything I can to make it move even a little faster…

      • Ariella says:

        I will definitely check out her story. I have been a faithful reader to Cindy and just recently found Ronan and rememberingreilly.wordpress.com

        I read Cindy’s blog the other day and it broke my heart. She misses him so much and to be honest, I still have yet to think of something to say to her. I always comment and I found myself unable to comment. What can you really say to someone that has just suffered such a devastating loss?

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