The Ad Campaign That Wasn’t

Earlier I posted my thoughts on CCFA’s Escape the Stall Campaign. I just finished reading a post by Caring for Crohn’s. This is MY response to CCFA’s answers about the controversy.

First, I want to thank Rebecca for reaching out to the CCFA and giving the IBD community some insight as to what the CCFA was thinking.

To say I am livid is an understatement. The National Marketing Director’s answers were evasive and mealy-mouthed.

He says, “The campaign utilizes the bathroom for a simple reason: it’s easy to recognize. And sympathize! It helps people understand how difficult it is to live with IBD, while reminding people living with IBD that there’s no reason to hide a normal daily activity. That’s what this campaign is all about.”

No. Actually, the campaign does not help people understand how difficult it is to live with IBD. The campaign portrays that we do use the bathroom more than most but it does not go into detail what we really go through. Saying that it’s “no laughing matter” or that “IBD gave her a day she’ll never forget” wholly avoids the sense of loss from those afflicted with the disease: loss of time, of hope, of opportunities or events, etc. It doesn’t even identify them specifically, explicitly, as a disease.

Yes, with this campaign I’m sure the public gets that IBD sufferers spend more time in the bathroom. But, what about the rest of it? The issue isn’t whether the bathroom stall is offensive. The issue is that the campaign is belittling the disease. IBD is about so much more than frequent or extended bathroom trips.

He goes on to say, ‘We understand that not everyone is going to agree with a provocative campaign like this. We expected for some people to disagree with the imagery but we have really worked hard for the past year to create a memorable campaign for the general public who know very little about these diseases.

Did I miss something? This campaign is by NO means provocative. It is the antithesis thereof! Memorable? My husband, with 10 years of marketing experience, looked over the ads. His response was a single word: “boring.” I expected to see the Charmin logo soon, he quipped. He then commented that it appeared as if they hired an agency that didn’t know what IBD does, is, or affects. The CCFA then likely got sold some snake oil by this illustrious ad firm on how “effective” the campaign was going to be.

“That’s the whole reason I left marketing … nonsense like that. I’d rather do something a tad more productive with my time,” my husband said. Do note he works in cancer research, now. Touché.

This got me to questioning the CCFA executive’s leadership or vision. After all, they spent a year and this is all they could come up with? And, to what price tag did this Public Service Announcement skew funds that could have well been better spent on research … “like how to make a better ad campaign,” according to my husband.

I looked at their staff page and nowhere did I see any evidence the higher-paid executives suffered with IBD, or loved someone similarly affected. All I saw was how much they did for this charity or that charity, monetarily. I understand that a non-profit organization needs a business mind running the show. But at what point does it start becoming just about numbers and not about the disease and people you are supposed to represent?

The National Marketing Director sums up my point by saying, “If we are successful in gaining support, we all benefit. Our primary goal for this campaign is to raise funds for research and that can only happen through public awareness.”

Research only goes so far when the IBD community is appalled at how and why you’re getting the funds to do said research. It also begs the question of motives and understanding what you claim to be promoting.


**Listening to 10 Years**


5 Responses to “The Ad Campaign That Wasn’t”
  1. Chris says:

    “My name is Chris Robertson, and I approve this message.”

  2. Chris says:

    In all seriousness, I really think whatever ad firm CCFA employed missed the mark here. They had a great opportunity to educate the masses as well as provide some hope for those with IBD. I can’t help but think this firm didn’t understand IBD or what it really steals from those people with IBD, so the firm just tip-toed around it and tried to make it ‘pleasant’ because it deals with bathroom issues.

    Whatever. They should have gotten their hands ‘dirty’ on this one: rolled up their sleeves and really put a spotlight on the hours and events that get stolen by IBD everyday. Portray IBD as a thief that takes away what is precious to those afflicted. Urge people to talk about it more, and break through the ‘taboo’ barriers based on the fact it deals with the bathroom (a naturally private and secluded place).

    Maybe next go ’round, the CCFA will employ a firm who’s balls have dropped. This one only dropped THE ball.

  3. I don’t think I can say it any better. I am now waiting to see what CCFA does next once they see how much of a fail these ads are.

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