My last blog discussed the tyranny of consensus. But there's also wrath in rocking the boat—just ask Alex Smith.
For more than a year, Smith has been blogging to try to "raise awareness" for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a fatal disease that strikes one in 3,500 young boys (and a handful of equally unlucky girls). Smith's son Harrison has Duchenne, so the father also launched Harrison's Fund to raise money to find a cure for the disease.
But here's the rub: We've all heard that heartbreaking story before. So while Smith's efforts were earnest, the results were disappointing, especially since Smith is racing with time. (Most kids with Duchenne die in their late teens or early 20s) As he wrote in his blog:
How will I feel if that day comes... and I haven’t beaten time and Harrison or William [Smith's other son], look at me and ask:
"Daddy, could you have done more?"That's when Smith, working with creative agency AIS London, decided to take a different tack with the ad you see above—an ad equally praised for its boldness and lambasted for its insensitivity.
Powerfully visceral, "I wish my son had cancer" is raising money—"thousands of pounds," according to this article—but it has also raised a ruckus, especially among parents of cancer-stricken children (check out Harrison's Fund's Facebook page, where Smith also defends his strategy, without being defensive).
So was the risk worth it? I just voted "yes" with my checkbook. But I know that won't be a popular sentiment among many of my readers.
Effective marketing means making tough decisions that motivate the right people, rather than merely pleasing all people. Alex, if you're reading this, you did the right thing.
Next time—just so your intentions are perfectly clear—make it equally easy for others to donate to cancer research, too.