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'Deserves to Die' Campaign Supporter Revealed
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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Everyone likes a little mystery now and again. The ad you see was a part of a series of ads that went up as posters around many major U.S. cities. Other posters included "Hipsters Deserve to Die," "The Smug Deserve to Die," and so on. One source mentioned a Chicago woman who saw the ad "Cat Lovers Deserve to Die" and thought it was incredibly offensive.

There was a countdown on the site NoOneDeservestoDie.org for people to visit midnight Thursday to see who and what is behind this "sadistic" campaign. The answer was the Lung Cancer Alliance, and it was emphasizing the fact that lung cancer does not discriminate, and it kills many people across the spectrum, no matter what label we tend to carry.

The Lung Cancer Alliance relied on short, shocking copy to attract attention to a sensitive subject. This is not uncommon. Our society seems to want to talk about all the easy stuff, and the tough subjects that need attention are pushed into the alleyways. Like the anti-smoking campaign the CDC and the Dept. of Health and Human Services are running, the lung cancer awareness issue is something that pervades our regular lives, but there is little real knowledge about it. Who knew that lung cancer kills more than prostate, breast, and colon cancer combined? Not us.

Relying on shocking copy can demand attention, but will that attention turn into action? On its campaign site, the Lung Cancer Alliance is trying to call people to action in three ways: donate, get involved, and learn about lung cancer. Will this kind of campaign yield the desirable result? It's hard to tell. One has to be careful not to scare people off from checking the message out. With a fear-averse society, too-shocking copy can yield the reverse effect and drive people away.

Advocacy and awareness campaigns can be tough. It requires a balance between information, attention-grabbing, and tastefulness. The Bedsider campaign, for example, used humor to talk about unplanned and teenage pregnancy, mainly because its targeted demographic was between 18–29, and it figured humor could make the conversation a little easier.

We haven't followed up to see how those campaigns are doing, but no doubt the Lung Cancer Alliance folks must've used these campaigns as references to form its own campaign.

It's an important issue, and it's nice to see the LCA using advertising to get its information to an audience that needs it. 

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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