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Too far? Anti-smoking campaign declares that some people “deserve to die” July 8, 2012

Posted by rmshepard in Uncategorized.
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The Lung Cancer Alliance launched teaser ads for its new campaign in June 2012. Online messages, posters, and billboards contained messages like “Hipsters Deserve to Die” and “Cat Lovers Deserve to Die.” The campaign irritated many people, as some tore down the ads and complained that they were insensitive. While the ads confused people, especially since the campaign was really about “No One Deserves to Die,” the teaser succeeded in raising the group’s profile.

So, what was this all about? After making their website and campaign more public, the Lung Cancer Alliance revealed that they are trying to tackle the stigma that people get lung cancer because they smoke. Because lung cancer is inaccurately associated with self-destructive behavior, the LCA reports, research on the disease receives far less funding. The effort, then, is attempting to help shed that harmful stereotype by shocking people into self-reflection.

For more on the Lung Cancer Alliance’s campaign, see the following video:

Discussion Questions:

1.  Was the confusion about the Lung Cancer Alliance’s campaign proof that it was not successful?

2.  Would the campaign have been better without the teaser? Why, or why not?

3.  What does this case study reveal about the shortcomings of confrontation as a strategy in public relations?

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