The aid/development Twitterverse engaged in a rollicking debate over the appropriateness of the new MSF UK ad today. Here’s the ad:
Some, like Bill Easterly and Laura Freschi, argued that the ad played to stereotypes of Africa as a wasteland of civil wars, rape and murder –even though the ad itself is not set on a specific continent and no actors are ever shown. On Aid Watch, Freschi wrote:
After watching this ad several times (I don’t recommend you try this), I feel 1) deranged and 2) hopeless, as though nothing I could ever do, much less donate a few dollars to MSF, could possibly have any effect on the vast, incomprehensible suffering in the world.
For my part, I argued that MSF does emergency medical relief, and it is entirely appropriate for MSF ads to highlight that. MSF is not CARE or even the IRC. MSF employees literally work with blood and guts and human goo all day, treating badly injured, ill, malnourished and displaced people in what are surely among the most desperate moments of their patients’ lives. Therefore, a campaign featuring nothing but resilient, empowered beneficiaries ( a la “I Am Powerful”) doesn’t make sense, while a disturbing one that shocks the viewer’s conscience does.
As the debate progressed (or devolved, depending on how you see it), more MSF ads came to my attention.
The Peter Singer:
The PTSD mashup / cry into your mom’s lap:
The “human ball”:
The recruitment poster:
The lame one:
Below the jump, two non-MSF ads that will sound your WTF? alarms for two very different reasons.
UNICEF Belgium and the Smurfs. Enough said.
UN anti-landmine ad. Effective, but check out the wretches commenting. Or don’t, and save a small piece of your sanity.