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Monday, August 11, 2008

Tick, Tick, Tick...

Last night my wife and I were watching another episode of Joss Whedon's Firefly. (By the way, this show is awesome.  Besides the coolness of a sci-fi western, it's full of anti-bureaucracy, pro-freedom themes.  It ran for less than one season on Fox in 2002, but you can watch it free in it's entirety at Hulu.com)  During a commercial we saw this ad.

Cute little kid faces somberly saying, "Tick" one after another led me to believe it was a public service announcement warning parents and children about Deer Ticks, which can be carriers of Lyme disease.  Seemed like a reasonable warning - I live in the country, so I have to check my son for Ticks after he's been in the tall grass.  But alas, this was not an insect removal reminder.  It was an ad for fightglobalwarming.com - reminiscent of and just as disturbing as LBJ's famous 1964 "Daisy" ad.

The ad seemed cheap and exploitative.  I guess guilt and fear were the feelings they were trying to inspire, but it just made me feel weird.  The old, "If you don't do this babies and puppies will die" line always raises suspicion.  When facts won’t do, cart out the children.

The creators of the ad would do the public a far greater service if it went something like: "Tick, tick, tick...check your kids for ticks if they've been outside!"  After all, Lyme disease has harmed more people than manmade global warming ever will.

(Cross-posted at the SFEblog)

Posted by Isaac Morehouse on August 11, 2008 in Media | Permalink


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The kind of ad that works best when you want people to donate money for a cause, be it famine relief or aid in the wake of a natural disaster, is one that pulls on people's emotions, not one that sets out to construct an fact-based argument for why you should help. That often means showing faces of suffering, and showing kids works best of all. It might be cheap and exploitative, but it does not mean that it is untruthful. Kids in these cases really are suffering and dying and at least some of the time donations can help.

But more generally, most advertising is based on emotional appeal. In 30 seconds or a minute, it is hard to do much more. Attempts to do more are much easier for an audience to ignore and thus are much less likely to be effective. So that this ad makes an emotional appeal is no reason to believe that there are no facts to back up the position it takes.

As for ads this one reminds me of, I'd say it looks an awful lot more like this more recent ad campaign: Click ... click ... click ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=067oH8zoIf8

Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-08-11 7:23:33 AM

Agreed-emotion is a fine appeal, and no proof of fallacy. But, this ad doesn't make me want to give, just like brimstone preachers don't make me want their salvation. Plus, the connection between MMGW and kids dying is, to say the least, not an obvious one (let alone true). It feels like the cover of National Lampoons with the dog at gunpoint that said, "buy this issue or this dog gets it".

Posted by: IMM | 2008-08-11 7:40:22 AM

Emotion often motivates people to charitable action, threat doesn't. Imagine a homeless guy asking for a buck, "pay me or bad things will happen". Moving, no?

Posted by: IMM | 2008-08-11 7:44:01 AM


I think you are missing who the target audience of the ad is, probably because you are not in that group. The ad is not designed to convince people who do not already believe that global warming is a serious problem to start believing it. The ad is designed to motivate people already believe that it is a problem to do something about it. To that end, the ad ends by asking people to visit their website, where like-minded people will find more detailed suggestions they have about what that action could be. So your reaction is quite understandable, but that does not make it any less effective an ad.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-08-11 8:47:14 AM

Throwing children into battle is more evidence they're becoming desperate. What's next?

I guess we shouldn't worry too much. They shielded themselves with children pretty early in the battle. They aren't a very formidible enemy.

Posted by: dp | 2008-08-11 10:21:51 AM

I prefer to use the Three Strikes method to reject this climate change nonsense:

Strike 1) Was Ontario - or anyone for that matter - granted an exemption to Kyoto?

Strike 2) Has there been an estimate of the financial costs of Kyoto?

Strike 3) How do you expect to fight climate change when India and China have been exempted?

They're out ... of their minds.

I am proud to be blessed with the Spirit of '08, the anti-Kyoto resistance. I feel like getting a fife, a drum and a flag to symbolize the bravery of those like me who see that Kyoto is a sham.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2008-08-11 10:24:01 AM

Issac, I never thought of that but agree Tick's probably cause more harm to children than global warming ever will.

Just like swimming pools kill more kids every year than guns. It is easier to focus on the gun crime than the facts.

Posted by: TM | 2008-08-11 11:04:38 AM

The Left uses the Islamic method of putting their kids out front. Those kids are probably rightfully scared shitless after their idiot parents convince them of why they need to do such things.

Posted by: John V | 2008-08-11 12:58:15 PM

I used to be quite spooked by ticks; I grew up in western Manitoba, where ticks are not common and one comes by them rarely. I finally got over it a couple of years ago, visiting friends in eastern Manitoba. We went hiking at the tall-grass prairie preserve northeast of Tolstoi, at the height of summer. What they don't tell you is that tall-grass prairie is the natural preferred habitat of the tick. So we were essentially hiking in a tick preserve.

I can tell you, there's nothing like the experience of watching ticks crawl up your legs in waves. After that, I've never been upset at a the sight of a tick; just motivated.

Afterwards, it took us about an hour before we'd all picked each other clean. Amazingly none of us actually got bit, if that's right word for what a tick does to you. But we did notice that after we were clean, we could feel our muscles burning. We figured it was the lack-tick acid...

Posted by: ebt | 2008-08-11 3:27:53 PM

Yuck. That story makes my skin crawl ebt.

I once found one in a very, very sensitive spot while I was showering.

It's an odd coincidence, but global warming may be bad for ticks. They rely on cold weather to bring furry creatures to their launching areas, and winter fur to hide under. At least the deer ticks I'm acquainted with.

In fact, a really cold winter with deep snow makes for a miserable spring for the moose population. I've seen a few almost hairless in the early spring. Life without fingernails and a preening partner can be pretty rough.

Posted by: dp | 2008-08-11 4:41:05 PM

We have two kids in thier teens. Both are in school and both are being fed MMGW dogma.
They both know better though...that's what parents are for.
Teach your children well.

Posted by: JC | 2008-08-11 5:11:16 PM

Around here the anti-pesticide lobby post signs on their lawns saying "I love my kids more than I love my lawn". These are the same people who think that giving bears the run of the town is good for kids.

Posted by: RD | 2008-08-11 5:31:50 PM

RD, if you looked at my lawn, you might think I love my kids more than ly lawn. But in truth I am just lazy. Considering how much CO2 I am not emmitting, or water I am not wasting, by being so lazy, I should be prmitted by the wise, all knowing, benevolent state, to spray for weeds once in a while.

Posted by: TM | 2008-08-11 6:19:14 PM

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