Just In: Life Alert Pulls Scary New Ad In Face Of Public Outcry
Life Alert’s new 2014 TV ad has stirred up controversy. So much so that they have recently pulled it, only about 2 months into its airing.
The controversial Life Alert advertising spot opens with a woman crying in the background as viewers are shown panning shots of an empty house. The house looks dark and cold inside and viewers are shown shots of normal activities going on with folks outside the home in bright, broad daylight. As the camera footage moves back into the dark cold empty house, the ad cuts to reveal an old lady crying in the basement of the home, fallen with a spilled laundry basket next to her. She cries helplessly. Catch it here if you don’t mind its nature:
The public outcry against this ad has been tremendous. People call it needlessly terrifying and exploitative of the issue of senior falls. An often echoed opinion is against how the Life Alert is using fear of death to scare the elderly into purchasing a medical alert system. Others feel that the ad is in bad taste, with some disliking the way it depicts seniors to be weak and helpless.
The reactions have been strong. A number of people admitted to crying when they saw the TV advertising spot because it was so disturbing for them. The strong reactions have come from a wide cross-section of society, across all age groups 18+, gender and people from different industry backgrounds.
On the flip side, some have also publicly expressed that the ad has done its job well of letting seniors and their children think about the serious consequences of falling down when they are all alone in their homes. A Youtube video of their ad received 339 likes vs 272 dislikes.
Life Alert’s “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” commercials have always been a source of interest. They even have a trademark on the phrase. In the past, most people found their ads amusing and corny, but hardly upsetting. The reaction to the new ad has been nothing like that. It’s been controversial and upsetting to many.
Here are some reactions from the public:
“The TV commercials are very irritating. They assume that all of us older people easily panic and are unable to think clearly.
… An aunt of mine, who was past 90, fell in her bedroom and could not get up. She decided not to bother anyone at that late hour. She pulled a blanket off of the bed and slept on the floor until morning then managed to reach a phone and call a relative for help. She obviously did not panic.
Surely TV commercials could be devised that would show victims of falling behaving in a more mature and rational manner.
If I ever decide to subscribe to an emergency service, it will be one that treats seniors like competent adults and not one that treats seniors as feeble, helpless, and incompetent.” F. R. Eggers
“….When I saw/heard this commercial, I was ready to cry. Commercials like this ruin our TV watching experience. We just want to tune out and escape for awhile–not bawl because a commercial reminds us of our grandmothers who have fallen and couldn’t get up or because we’re afraid of growing old and being alone and in this woman’s situation. Believe me, your other commercials are effective enough. Both my grandmas have Life Alert. I support the product. But I don’t like ads that use extreme fear tactics. That’s low.” Nicole V
“This is a weird ad. When I first saw it, I was very uncomfortable listening to that old woman shriek. I guess you could say it was effective because it grabbed my attention (in a bad way, I was looking for the mute button)….I am young and healthy and I even thought about how terrible it would be to be stuck on the floor waiting for help. The realism of the ad forces seniors to adopt that frame of mind for a second, and that may be the key between a sale and no sale. Most seniors, if they are anything like my grandfather, are too set in their ways or too proud to purchase a LifeAlert system because they think a situation like that will never happen to them. I think if it makes these seniors consider getting LifeAlert, they can chalk this one up as a win.” 3CD
“I personally think the approach they were going for was fairly effective because it really shows how serious of an issue it is. It’s terrifying because being in that situation is terrifying. It happened to my great aunt who fell and wasn’t able to get help for hours – thankfully her son was coming over that day and found her a few hours and not days later. A fall for the elderly is life threatening and this ad doesn’t shy away from that…..” Candace B
There was even an online petition for Life Alert to pull their ad. It reached over 200 signatures before the ad was pulled.
Life Alert‘s initial reaction was to defend their stance. According to Life Alert, their goal is to jolt people into realizing the terrible consequences of preventable tragedies that could happen when seniors are alone at home. They want people to take notice and really think about the situation. They also said that many have considered their previous advertising efforts less than serious, and they wanted to craft a serious message that gets through to people the importance of a medical alert system.
However, with mounting public pressure, Life Alert has decided to replace their ad with one that so far appears more amenable to public tastes. It shows the Life Alert button being used and the medical alert button wearer saved. It has a much more positive approach that doesn’t prey on the fears of people.
What do you think of the Ad, or Life Alert’s advertising approach? Please comment below!