Is the Syrian refugee crisis relevant from a marketing perspective?

A New York Times article last week from columnist Charles Duhigg brought the Syrian refugee crisis to light from a marketing lens. Duhigg argues that amongst the countless charities people are exposed to on a regular basis, it is statistically unlikely that you’ll write a check to help the Syrian refugees.  “Though the Syrian crisis is a huge and heartbreaking story, it has translated into relatively little charitable giving because the cause doesn’t project hope,” Duhigg says. In other words, it’s bad marketing.

This theory supposes that without a hopeful image or hero in marketing charitable campaigns, people won’t respond positively.

Fact or fiction? DeVito/Verdi President Ellis Verdi says, “ Let’s not be too quick to limit creativity to a formula where only a ‘positive’ ‘hopeful’ message is effective. After all, right or wrong, those depressing type of spots and negative imagery have worked for many years. They tackle the issue by presenting the desire for the absence of negatives,” he said.

Verdi does admit, “If I don’t know how much of a social problem the Syrian refugee crisis is, I might be more effectively reached with a message of hope.” Therefore he cautions that advertisers shouldn’t be creatively lazy and present what might be the worst just because it’s visually impactful.

“In the end, we should judge the message on how much we are impacted by it emotionally,” he said.