Laurie Ben-Haim of BBDO: D'oh!
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.