Friday, May 1, 2009

Don't get mad...

Caught an interesting press release from the Canadian Labour Congress yesterday:

The Canadian Labour Congress wants to know why CHUM-FM is refusing to play an ad to promote awareness about Canada's unacceptably high workplace death rate.

The ad, nicknamed "Its Not Funny" was produced to promote information about the fact that over 1,000 Canadians died because of unsafe working conditions last year. It features the voice of a man who is outraged at the situation, nothing obscene, nothing slanderous, nothing that comes remotely close to pushing any boundaries. However, CHUM-FM has refused to put it on the air.

You can check out the ad for yourself right here: MP3

The CLC was the only source I could find online for comment from the stations:

"The excuse we were given was that people will tune out because they don't want to hear outrage on the radio, which is beyond ridiculous because that's the bread and butter of many talk radio stations"

They have a point, there. When I think of radio today, in my head I hear the unwelcome outrage of shock jocks and shameless pundits. Having listened to the ad in question, I don't see what could possibly upset radio listeners who endure hours of early morning DJs.

But I may have found some clue as to the particular sensitivity of CHUM listeners to on-air negativity in this user comment:

larsh (Apr 30, 2009 @ 06:09PM)

I am personally tired of the Dr. Marla Swine Flu updates on the morning show. 4 days in a row is uncessary! I know you are trying to calm people, but I think you are creating fear instead. (Do you really need DAILY updates?). I personally like to hear discussions about "lighter" topics when i am driving in the morning. The traffic is stressful enough!

Yes, let's stop worrying about staying on top of a rapidly-growing global health crisis because traffic is already so difficult to deal with. Just like it's too upsetting to hear a guy get angry about the thousands of Canadians who die from unsafe workplaces when you could be laughing about Britney's stripper pole.

That's just sad. I think we need to get our priorities straight.


  1. "Do we really need DAILY updates?". Daily updates were for the good ol'days. I am receiving feeds and tracking updates near real time online and it is still too slow for me to consume.

    I liked the placement and think it is a very important message and since I PVR my TV, radio ads (on talk radio) are the only ones I actually listen to... well, aside from when you read me your copy for ads.

    - Sarah

  2. I agree with you Tom in regards to pulling ads due to negative content especially when dealing with relevant issues... tho personally, with this spot I found it sounded forced... It didn't draw me emotionally.
    That said I think there's a fine line between media over kill vs. maintaining awareness on ongoing topics. There is a lot of fear mongering and reactionary reporting. So I think its unfair to discount people for wanting lighter, brighter news stories... especially with the continual onslaught of darkness that seems to hit the media air waves these days.
    And Britney and her stripper pole don’t necessarily fall into that lighter and brighter category ;)

  3. I agree with you on the quality of the spot, Kerry. It does sound forced. But when it comes to important messages on radio (paid or otherwise), I think there's room for useful info between the phone pranks and fart jokes.

    For example, the flu spread really is an issue that requires frequent updates. Knowing isn't necessarily obsessing. I believe that the right message can actually reduce panic by fighting rumour and misinformation.

  4. And I too agree with you ;)... I'm just saying in regards to 'news' lets maintain some balance. I'm not saying don't update. The public should definitely stay informed, on all sorts of issues be it through news or 'thought provoking' ads. But its the distribution of information... the speed at which people receive this information and the huge amounts of misinformation being reported. Updates by reputable sources may allay some of it. But these same reputable sources are hugely guilty of replacing one crisis for another... as one ends another begins. Not necessarily because its news but because that's what sells. And I do think it takes its toll.

  5. Agreed. It's called "media fatigue", and it affects every issue. Perhaps the solution would be to focus on the issues that really matter, rather than dwelling on every tragedy worldwide that doesn't necessarily need our opinion.