Whose Planet Is It Anyway?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Laurie Ben-Haim of BBDO: D'oh!

In response to an earlier post about the NYU Child Study Center's ignorant "Ransom Notes" advertisements, Kate Gladstone wrote a comment that sheds some light on how this ad campaign went so far wrong:


Ms. Ben-Haim has confirmed for me that her ad-agency tested out the ad-campaign on *parents* of disabled kids, but not—repeat, NOT—the disabled kids (or adults) themselves. When I asked her why the agency didn't also test out the ads on disabled people (the folks the ads actually talks about), she admitted she didn't have a good answer for that one.


Quite apart from that egregious omission, I really have to wonder what rocks were turned over to find a significant number of parents who thought "Ransom Notes" would be a good idea. From what I've seen so far, every parent blogger who has written about these insulting and exploitative ads has been totally disgusted by them, with the lone exception of Harold Doherty's trolling—or, as Christschool more eloquently described it, literary flatulence—on Kristina Chew's blog. Many parents have written letters expressing their outrage (for anyone who wishes to do so, here is a link to contact information for various people associated with NYU and the Ransom Notes ads).

I have to wonder—maybe someone at the ad agency called Autism Speaks and had a nice friendly chat with Jon (My son is nothing but an empty shell) Shestack and with Alison (I wanted to drive my daughter off the George Washington Bridge) Singer. Maybe the conversation went something like this:


"Hey guys, I'm thinking about plastering New York City with ads that describe autistic kids and other children with disabilities as tragic kidnap victims, hopelessly unable to care for themselves, doomed to lives of total isolation, a detriment to themselves and others, and so forth. But gee, I really don't know diddlysquat about any of these conditions, and I'm not sure if these ads will motivate parents to have their kids seen by NYU's psychiatrists. Can you put me in touch with some parents who can give me an idea of what kind of response to expect?"

(maniacal cackling laughter) "Sure! You bet!"


That's about the only explanation I can think of, anyway.

Still, I have more respect for Laurie Ben-Haim's "D'oh!" answer (which was at least honest) than I have for the bizarre attempt by Dr. Harold Koplewicz to claim that the worldwide outrage over the ads is evidence that they are working. Here's my career advice for Dr. Koplewicz after he gets fired: Try asking Karl Rove for a job.

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9 Comments:

  • I have been following this issue for the past week (week and a half?) or so, and I've been wanting to send off an e-mail to the NYU folks (since, unsurprisingly, I'm utterly disgusted with the "ransom notes" campaign), but I read someone say they didn't have any success using Yahoo email addresses. As in, the messages bounced back or something along those lines.

    So...does anyone reading this know what email addresses *won't* get bounced? At home I have access to Yahoo and Gmail accounts, which are both webmail. Hopefully they accept messages from some form of webmail.

    (Sorry if this is off-topic or if it has been answered elsewhere, but I figured this was as good a place as any to inquire).

    By Blogger AnneC, at 12:39 PM  

  • I couldn't use my Hotmail address, either. But what the hey, if the NYU folks really want to be deluged with truckloads of snail mail and overflowing faxes... I figure that's their problem.

    By Blogger abfh, at 1:27 PM  

  • "From what I've seen so far, every parent blogger who has written about these insulting and exploitative ads has been totally disgusted by them, with the lone exception of Harold Doherty's trolling­or, as Christschool more eloquently described it, literary flatulence­on Kristina Chew's blog. "

    Outside the blog world, the woman responsible for keeping Marty Murphy's "My Name is Autism"" on the Internet (against even Marty's wishes) went out of her way to post the link to this on a Canadian Yahoo list, calling it an "Interesting awareness campaign". She had also posted "My Name is Autism" 6 days earlier to the same list (the same day she suggested to the listowner that the antagonists should be booted from the list, the same woman who booted Michelle & I off the list she runs).

    I emailed from my isn account and it bounced, this isn't a yahoo/hotmail issue. Has anyone successfully emailed press@AboutOurKids.org?

    By Blogger jypsy, at 6:47 PM  

  • Dr. Koplewicz and Autism Speaks. Perhaps Dr. Koplewicz has learned "fear awareness" from the Wrights?


    http://newyorksocialdiary.com/partypictures/
    2005/12_05_05/images/childstudycenter/
    koplewicz_bloomberg_wrights.jpg

    By Anonymous CS, at 8:39 PM  

  • one can only hope all the bouncing emails means we've swamped their mail server or overfilled their email accounts?

    By Blogger Niksmom, at 8:52 PM  

  • "... the bizarre attempt by Dr. Harold Koplewicz to claim that the worldwide outrage over the ads is evidence that they are working."

    Is that 'reaction formation' or 'projection' on the part of Kopelwicz? Just wondering.

    By Blogger hollywoodjaded, at 11:12 PM  

  • It would seem to me that a good place to email might be the Univerisity's student led disability group. Nothing like having an internal ally.

    See here:

    http://www.nyu.edu/csd/disability_group.pdf

    By Anonymous CS, at 8:12 AM  

  • Thanks CS -- I've passed your suggestion on to Ari so that he can ask the NYU student disability group to sign on to ASAN's open letter.

    By Blogger abfh, at 1:17 PM  

  • I emailed them but "the students with disabilities organization has disbanded" and "afraid I can’t help, but good luck."

    By Blogger jypsy, at 4:01 PM  

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