Does this image make you feel panicky?
It's a poster for Evergreen, a Canadian nonprofit that promotes "deepening the connection between people and nature." Sounds like a good cause to me; I'd like my city to be as full of trees, lakes, streams, birds, and (nonviolent) animals as it can possibly be. Even though I don't live in Canada.
But really now. This poster is hardly takes you where the organization wants you to go. Here's what it says:
Be the Root
Nature in the city begins with all of us. The harder we try, the more it will thrive. We need your help. Visit evergreen.ca
First the headline: Be the Root. I think that's pretty good. It really could have gone somewhere -- to a call to action like giving or volunteering. But it doesn't. It falls apart with the confusing, misdirecting copy, which can't seem to make up its mind us "we" are -- everybody, or the people at Evergreen? And rather than be clear about what needs to happen, it just has us trying hard ... at, well, something.
But weak copy alone can hardly get you a Stupid Nonprofit Ad honor. And in this case, the winning ingredient is the insanely weird image.
When I think about being surrounded by nature, I tend to focus on fresh air, clean smells, gentle sounds. Not being buried head down.
Is that a look of deranged happiness on his face? Or is it a frozen mask for horror brought on by this sadistic torture of live, head-down burial with his neck grafted onto a shrub?
This poster is a symptom of the same impulse that drives most of the other Stupid Nonprofit Ads: Abstraction. The cause of naturing up the city sounds pretty straightforward, doesn't it? You'd think that donors' gifts and volunteers' work would translate pretty logically into concrete, understandable progress. Right?
The creative Zen-masters who designed the poster apparently didn't think so, and chose an abstract representation of how you can connect to the cause. Abstract and utterly wacko.
If you want to motivate people to join your cause, you're just going to have to tell them what you want them to do, and why. Be clear and compelling. Nobody who matters is going to laugh at the "obviousness" of your message.
Leave the abstractionism to avant-garde artists. They do it better.
Thanks to AdRants for the tip.
See many more Stupid Nonprofit Ads.