This is one of the ads in the current “Moments” campaign by St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.  There are eight different versions of this ad (four in English, four in Spanish) currently, this being the longest one.  They are all available on St. Jude’s website, the organization’s Youtube page, and can be seen on all kinds of different television channels.

While I believe the case could be made that this campaign is an indoctrination campaign, I believe it is more in line with a public relations campaign.  In the Simons and Jones chapter on Persuasive Campaigns, it says that PR campaigns are about making a person, company, organization, etc. “look good.”  The idea is that creating a positive image will drive sales, membership, political access, etc. (p 333).  This ad exemplifies this—the parents of children being treated at St. Jude’s talk about how the hospital has helped them, and then the voice of Marlo Thomas talks about the various ways the hospital helps advance treatment of cancer.  Unlike some of the organization’s previous campaigns, this campaign doesn’t focus on talking about the ways cancer (and other childhood diseases) affects those with it and their families to try to get viewers to donate; instead, this campaign focuses more on the things the organization does to try to cure cancer.  St. Jude’s is trying to make sure people recognize the good things it is doing and use that as a reason to donate to the cause.

This ad seems to be in the promotion stage of the campaign, which is when the entity behind the campaign is trying to get its name out in the public eye.  The chapter talks about two elements to the promotion stage: identity and credibility.  Identity, it says, is important in making sure the audience remembers and recognizes the entity behind the campaign.  Things like logos, slogans, and jingles are all important in establishing an identity (p 327).  This ad helps strengthen the identity of St. Jude through the use of the logo; the repetition of both the organization’s name and the title of the campaign, “moments,”; and the well-known voice of the organization’s key spokesperson, Marlo Thomas.  All of these things help identify the ad as part of a St. Jude’s campaign.

Credibility, the chapter says, is important for making sure the audience believes what the entity behind the campaign is saying—if the audience doesn’t believe it, they aren’t going to be persuaded (p 327).  The entire ad is focused on building credibility for St. Jude’s, with Marlo Thomas touting the ways the hospital is working to cure cancer, all set over still and moving images of doctors and researchers appearing to be doing exactly what she is claiming they do.  All of this, coupled with the fact that St. Jude’s has been around for many years and is a well-known organization, lends to the organization’s credibility.

As said before, this ad campaign is found everywhere; different ads in this campaign appear before Youtube videos, on blogs, and on a wide variety of television channels.  All of that makes it hard to say who, exactly, the intended audience is, other than anyone.  This particular ad makes use of many different kinds of people—the patients and their families come from all races, genders, and ethnicities and even the doctors, nurses, and researchers show a wide variety of those as well.  This helps to make the audience able to identify with someone in the ad (“that could be my child!”) which makes the viewer want to donate more.  The ad doesn’t even seem to focus on a certain economic status: even at the end, there is never a plea for money.

The broad scope makes the ad highly effective.  By making sure it reaches all kinds of different people and talks about the great things St. Jude’s is doing, it makes the viewer want to check out the website and see if there’s a way they can help, whether that’s through a monetary donation, volunteering their time, or something else.  This campaign tugs on heartstrings just enough without focusing on the heartbreak of childhood illness, which, at least to me, makes it a wonderful campaign.

Adrienne Bogard

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