Friday, June 29, 2012

Epic Advertising FAIL!

Okay peeps, I HAVE CAT just broke the news about a new ad campaign by the Lung Cancer Alliance.
Tell us what you think.

 Okay, now we'll tell you what we think.

I've worked in advertising, marketing and PR for a gazillion many years. This is a sterling example of a creative concept gone wrong.

It's the kind of idea an eager intern would come up with, not knowing any better. Usually somewhere along the line, someone older and wiser stops a campaign like this by explaining to said intern the difference between delivering the unexpected and delivering offensive content.

This campaign crosses the line by offending major segments of the population: people who are older, people who see themselves as hip, people who have tattoos. (If you care to be further offended, you can see the rest of the campaign at

I understand the desire to deliver the unexpected. Done well (oh, and isn't THAT a key ingredient!) it can be incredibly effective. In fact, making people go "huh?!?!" is my most favorite kind of creative treatment. Take a look at an ad my former agency designed and you'll see what I mean. It crashes together two completely unrelated ideas to get your attention and make a point. It even *gasp!* uses a stereotype, but (IMO, at least) not in an offensive way.

Again, we'd like to hear from you. Tell us what you think. Did the Lung Cancer Alliance go too far?

If so, please tell the Lung Cancer Alliance that their ad agency failed them in a major way when they delivered such an offensive creative treatment for their latest ad campaign. Ask them to pull the campaign immediately. An organization that does good, like the Alliance, cannot afford bad publicity.

You can tweet them at @LCAorg or email them at


  1. We must say that the adverts by Lung Cancer Alliance are in very bad taste. Definitely gone too far.

  2. As I said on facebook, you have about a split second to grab the attention of your audience, and while I like the punch line of an "unexpected" ad campaign, this one does not work. Starting an ad with this sort of "gasp," "why are you saying such a hateful thing about a group of people?" only works if you deliver the appropriate message quicker. And I guess maybe I don’t know enough about the subject, but I did not realize a large contingency of the population felt that people who got lung cancer deserved to die. I realize the cigarette aspect of it, but my grandmother died of lung cancer and she never smoked a day in her life. Anyhow, this ad only served to upset me, it did not enlighten or educate me to the plight of lung cancer. I know they felt they were trying to be clever, but it really missed the mark in my opinion. Thank you for the email information!

  3. No didn't work for us either.
    Best wishes Molly

  4. As a young purrson would say: EPIC FAIL. These are horrible.

  5. This IS horrible and what is WRONG with them to put garbage out like that?????

  6. looks like classic cluster to speak

  7. Definitely EPIC FAIL. In very bad taste!!

  8. WAY too far. It was either a young and naive intern...or one of the "I wanna be cool" ad execs who should know better, but gets too caught up in making a statement. I sure would have loved to have been a fly on the conference room wall when this campaign was born. It's horrible.

    Even so, as I'm writing this I'm realizing that I would not have thought of lung cancer today were it not for the ad.

    Still, bad.

    1. True, but while it did make you think of lung cancer, did it motivate you to donate to *their* org? Every nonprofit is dependent upon the largesse of donors - and the very last thing I would want to to is give this group money! If this did awaken me to the need to fund lung cancer research, I'd actually go out of my way to find a different org to donate to, after having seen this campaign!

  9. Somebody really messed up! Methinks they must have all been drinking toe Koolaid!

    1. *trying to envision what toe Koolaid tastes like* :::shudder:::

  10. First of all, what kind of horrible people think people with lung cancer or ANY type of cancer deserve to die?

    Second, that's a horrible ad. Yes it made us talk about lung cancer, but it made us think this organization is TERRIBLE to insult groups of people, thus not wanting us to give them our money, thus proving this was a huge failure of a campaign!

    The way to get our attention and money is not to shock and gasp and get us ANGRY, but to shock and gasp and get us upset enough to want to help, or inspire us to want to help/change/do good.

    I like the ice cube ad. It didn't make fun of Eskimos, it taught you a way to sell something no one wants differently. It shows how creative that company can be and you want/need them. I just can't believe no one at the lung cancer company thought this was a bad idea, enough to stop it. Really guys, really? You thought this was GOOD?


Coolio! A comment? For US?