Don’t use tragedy for profit

We see it everywhere – on our televisions and all over social media. We hear it on the radio and sometimes even see it in films. I’m talking about advertising. It’s everywhere, and a lot of these ads in the past few years just make us laugh and insult our intelligence – all for profit.

Now, before you believe I am an anti-capitalist destined to start a revolution against the corporations of America, let me further explain. I am not against advertisement as a means to get people to buy something or support a cause. We all have to make a living and most people involved in campaigns and corporations rely on successful advertisements and product placements. I only have a prejudice against bad advertisements that are obvious “click-baits,” and those that are in poor bad taste. Often when an advertisement is in poor taste, it’s disrespectful because corporations will use a serious or tragic situation to sell a product.

A few weeks ago, I was watching an Internet video by VICE News about the horrific terrorist attack in Paris, France last November. In the video, a spokesman associated with VICE was sitting with the members of the band Eagles of Death Metal, who were performing when the attack happened. The spokesman began interviewing the band mates and asked them to share details on the night of the attack. Here’s the catch: that video was actually a 30-second teaser for the full interview that would not come out until a week later.

I may be reading too far into it, but it’s honestly so distracting, because VICE News basically took something involving a horrific act of terrorism resulting in over a hundred fatal casualties, and turned it into a trailer as if it were a movie or a TV show. The interview itself is fascinating and hard to watch, as the band mates describe in vivid detail what happened on that tragic evening. However, I was very offended at how they promoted it. And I’m sure many also saw it in bad taste and were just as offended as I was. VICE advertised a product of theirs – in this case, a video – less than a week after the attack, to make its users and viewers wait.

What they should have done was put the interview in its entirety on their website and on YouTube for free. Everyone should have been able to watch it without it being commercialized for profit.

There are more examples of bad advertising commonly found online. These are articles and links nicknamed “click-baits,” which are commonly found on Facebook and other social media sites. They are usually randomly placed articles and links with a tagline that says, “You won’t believe what this kid accomplished!” or, “You will cry when you read this story.” With taglines like these, how can you not be curious? Users will click on these thinking they’ll get a story or a piece of news regarding current events. But nope. A majority of click-baits are advertisements for various products that users who clicked on these links are not even remotely interested in buying.

If corporations want to promote something they feel should be seen they should not only make it available to view and inform its fans and readers on social media, but recommend it to everyone. Advertisements that are just click-baits only drive potential consumers away and come off as pushy. I would say less is more, and being subtler with your ads could potentially make users more curious and open to buying a product or supporting a cause.