Get Ready To Cry

Ah yes, the infamous Sarah McLachlan BC SPCA animal cruelty video. Known for its tear-jerking images of one-eye-three legged cats with intermissions from the cougar/singer Sarah McLachlan with what seems to be a very well trained yellow lab that is focused on some sort of treat held by its trainer behind the camera. I’d like to think that every message developed by this organization was in full-heart to help these little neglected critters, but with the kind of shock value they are coupling with groans of a middle aged woman whaling in the background tells me a different story.
The campaign I’d like to focus on is the Indoctrination campaign, as it is a mainstream organization attempting to persuade you to become a member. I think that the message is very straightforward and the goals of the advertisement are clear, even as much as I’d like to say it was a bit cult-like. Even though the video for this organization displays cult-like tendencies of an “us-them mentality” it does not carry other characteristics. This message does not engage in mind control or subliminal persuasion in my opinion. *(..or does it?)*
This persuasive campaign seems to be in the promotion stage. The organization identifies itself as warm, fulfilling, and comfort-giving, and illustrate that very well as Sarah pets the yellow lab. If the commercial ended there, we’d all just think it was just another washed-up celebrity that didn’t make it in cologne business and decided to give starting a foundation a try. However, the organization develops credibility by scanning images of authorized looking personnel caring, kissing and tending to the kittens, dogs and other injured domestic animals. Another crucial credibility addition was the inclusion of the facts at the beginning of the video that stated: “Every single hour in BC, an animal is violently abuse” and “3000 animals were rescued last year”. This shows that the organization is making progress and is successful in its efforts to saving lives and nurturing injured animals.
Okay, so let’s check out the audience. Who is viewing this video? This video has 1,193,311 views on YouTube and was uploaded on October 3rd, 2006. As of July 2012 the U.S. Census Bureau recorded that there are 313,914,040 million people that currently reside in the U.S. That obviously is a huge statistic and being able to narrow it down from that would be nearly impossible to be completely accurate, but we will just guess. This video’s target market is those who feel passionately for animals, have a small amount of disposable income, and have either a television set or access to the internet. So that covers the crazy neighbor lady with 16 cats, an overgrown lawn, and an ASPCA sticker on the back of her 2004 Pontiac Aztek, all the way to the hard-shelled business executive that is feeling vulnerable after a call to his family after his weeklong “business trip” to the French West Indies with his more-than-friendly secretary Yvonne Nadjaski.
This audience is MASSIVE so it is really hard to narrow down who may or may not be persuaded and why, but generally I think that most people feel guilt after viewing this video. The advertisement is effective in transferring emotion to the viewer, with the slow-churning music and helpless animal images. I think that the audience (most people) feel sad and agree that it is a good cause, but won’t donate money. I think that the message could drive about 7-10% each time it is aired to have individuals donate. Which is a pretty good statistic, and I suppose that is why they keep showing them. As for the other 90-93% we will just have to keep feeling guilty until we cave in at some point, or become annoyed enough to remove ourselves from beneath our bags of Cheetos and half-eaten Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supremes to get up and turn off the TV.

Drew Thomas

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