Are we a generation that can disable emotions?

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We’re all born with emotions, and these emotions greatly influence, and in many cases, prompt actions or decisions. Because of this, organisations, both commercial and charities, are continuously exploring how tapping into human emotions can prompt a desired action.

Rational messages do not sell or provoke nearly as many reactions as an emotional message. A rational message would never have sold Nike anywhere near as many trainers as the adrenaline inducing line ‘Just do It’. And Nike are not alone. Everyone is trying figure it out and provoke the desired response. Amongst those who do it well is John Lewis and the annual Christmas tearjerker, Hovis’s ‘Go on Lad’ campaign which tapped into the emotions of nostalgia, and the emotional roller coaster that is Cancer Research UK’s brand campaign, taking us on a journey from ‘dark days,’ to ‘defiance,’ ‘tenacious optimism,’ and ‘celebration’.

Recently, we at GOOD Agency worked with RNIB to highlight the importance of support to those going blind, from the moment of diagnosis. Every fifteen minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with sight loss yet only one in three eye departments in the UK have access to a sight loss adviser. This lack of support has devastating consequences, people have to work out alone how to navigate their future.

We wanted to communicate the extraordinary emotions people go through when they are first diagnosed with sight loss in order to emphasise the importance of support at this critical time. We spoke to people in the UK who had experienced this devastation first hand, who lacked the support they needed at a life changing moment. We listened, and from this created #Seetheneed campaign. A campaign that urged people to see the need for support at the moment of diagnosis and to demand that support is available throughout the UK.

The campaign used film, radio, outdoor and digital advertising and social outreach to communicate the story to the widest possible audience. It was supported by a host of famous names including Dame Shirley Bassey, Neil Morrissey and Barbara Windsor. The campaign conveyed a real issue, which affects many, many people in the UK every week, in a dignified way. But Facebook’s algorithm banned the advert because it was “too emotive”.

On reading Facebook’s advertising policies you will find many examples of prohibited content including, promotion of weapons, promotion of illegal drugs, information that is misleading, disrespectful or shocking content. Sight loss does not fall into any of these categories. The statistics that only one in three UK eye departments have access to a sight loss advisor is shocking, and the fact that Facebook has decided to ignore this issue is disrespectful.

Are we a generation that will be brought up in an anodyne environment because human emotions have been removed by an algorithm? Do we need to be protected from the seeing reality of what so many of us will experience directly or indirectly in our lifetime unless we take action? Does Facebook really think that seeing someone being told they are going blind is offensive? Questions not only pertinent to so many of our clients, but to us all. Acknowledging that boundaries of decency and dignity must be maintained, we believe that we need to be able to engage people with the whole spectrum emotions on such important issues as presented in RNIB’s campaign.