September 16, 2012

Pity and Fear...is it really fair?

I found Barton's analysis of pity and fear being used throughout ads by The United Way to be very interesting. It was difficult for me to tell if Barton supported the use or was completely against it. I don't think that she truly took a side, but focused more on analyzing the issue. I do think that the read would have been more interesting if she did choose more of a side and somewhat criticized the issue. But, she still evaluated some very interesting points and made me look at the use of text in ads in a very different light. I also began to develop a different feeling in regards to the steps taken by the United Way. The most hard hitting example for me was the ad example of Arthur and Pamela. It seemed as if the pictures they used of the children were quite degrading and disrespectful. I think that it also gave off the wrong idea to its audience. The audience was beginning to believe that the only reason why these children became "better" was because of their money and getting "better" may be different to the children than how adults may view the situation.

I understand that the company is reaching out to its particular audience-ones who read ads in newspapers, magazines, and watch television-adults. But, I think that there still needed to be some respect given to the children. Yes, they are sick and and it should not be wrong to show people how sick they are, using the pity card, but how is it that these writers are to determine what qualifies them as "better" and a healthier child? They are only appealing to the physical aspects of the children in the ads with the young boy "well again" pictured fully clothed, heavier, and holding a football. The pictures are the main part of this ad, their goal is for people to recognize the pictures, not so much the actual text. The text in the ad is significantly smaller than the headline and the pictures. The headline and pictures take about 75% of the page.

2 comments:

Huong Le said...

I am very distrustful of most charities and I think that the worst ones are aware that the people who do their research will not be donating to them, so instead they target people who will donate on impulse. People are more likely to feel a connection/feel emotional if they see themselves as helping this one child rather than if they were just getting the information and they didn't know who they were helping.

It's like people who panhandle with their children tagging along, or people peddling their goods for absurd amounts of money in areas where there are a lot of families going out/couples on dates. You feel bad telling a kid no, and in the latter example you don't want your kid to start crying and making a scene or you don't want your date to think you're cheap. It's all about pressuring the person into doing something they know they should not logically be doing.

Bridgette Balderson said...

Yeah, I didn't really agree with Barton's analysis of pity and fear in the ads created by United Way. Yes, the ads may be doctored in order to elicit a certain response from people, but I also feel that many people are somewhat wary of donating money to large corporations who claim that a majority of their profits actually reach the people it's supposed to. Even then, I don't think it's mostly pity and fear that motivate people to give charitably. Some people are just good-willed and like to help people who need it.

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