Well, that certainly got your attention, didn't it?
Okay, so maybe I don't exactly have the secret to happiness. (But wouldn't it be outSTANDING if I did?) I do, however, have a little insight into how we could be a little less UNhappy.
We've all been there, casually flipping through the channels on a Saturday afternoon when we stumble across it. You know the 'it' I'm referring to, right? The commercial designed to sabotage whatever contentment and happiness you have in your life and replace those good feelings with guilt and despair.
It's the ASPCA commercial where Sarah McLaughlin croons about arms of angels while images of abused animals with missing eyes, terrible limps, and protruding rib cages float across the screen. You instantly go from wondering what's in the fridge to wondering if the knives in your kitchen drawer will effectively slit your wrists.
And it's not just me. Check out this three-year-old's reaction to the commercial:
I completely agree with the main purpose of the video, but is traumatizing preschoolers really the answer? This child is sincerely upset by the state of these animals and her mom seems to do a really good job at trying to pacify her. However, I get the feeling that they are going to have more animals than people in their house if that little girls has anything to say about it.
While searching for the actual commercial, I stumbled upon this next one. I initially overlooked the title and was prepared to see something traumatic. This video did make me cry, but only from laughing so hard. Laughter is good, right?
Wasn't that great? While it doesn't exactly get the right point across, it doesn't make me want to close up my garage and start my minivan either. Call me crazy, but I tend to gravitate toward things that don't make me hate myself.
I know. I'm kooky that way.
I think I found the answer to how this message should be conveyed. While listening to the radio (I know...that's so ten years ago!) I heard a song I really liked. It's by a dude by the name of Phillip Phillips. Apparently, he found his fame on some reality show. While I don't particularly care for that show, I can't help but love this song. And I see a picture of in my head when I hear it. A picture of a family in a minivan full of children and a small animal carrier riding shotgun. They just came from an animal shelter and the video follows them home with their new family member nervously pacing in the carrier. It follows the family as the children prepare the food and water and toys for their new canine companion. You might see the uncertain pooch gradually warming up to the new family members while they fill it full of treats and coax it to fetch a ball. And, after a long day, the dog strolls over to its new bed, looks around at its new family one last time, and stretches out in its new digs for a nice nap. This is home.
Now, ignore the actual video footage and listen to the song. Can you see the pictures? The actual video just contains clips of a musician on tour, which is neither insightful nor original. I like the song because it seems to have so much more meaning just below the surface.
So, how do we go about changing these commercials? This song is about putting a positive spin on a not-so-good situation. It's about earning trust. Pairing that song with the right images could make me want to crave the positive feelings one gets from rescuing an animal and helping something that cannot help itself. It makes me want to rush out and adopt something, not slit my own wrists.
Can you see the difference?
I'd like to start a campaign to reclaim our late night and weekend television veiwing without guilt or remorse sneaking up on us in the form of terrible commercials that make us hate ourselves. (Besides, isn't that what all the weight loss commercials are already for?) Who do I talk to to make this happen?
This message has been brought to you by PECA. (People for Ethical Commercial Airing)
Thanks and have a wonderful day. (Stay away from the television, just in case!)