Power of the Positive

I am fascinated by PSAs. I am especially interested in what I believe to be a false assumption that the more graphic the ad, the more effective it will be in delivering its intended message to viewers. I can think of recent ads from the UK regarding txting while driving, and ads from Ontario on workplace safety that received much attention due to virality and mainstream media coverage. However, I wonder what effect such videos actually have in the end. Can anyone point to a decent study on the possible correlations?

Aside: The PSA I remember most from the 90’s was about Methamphetamine. And it was not because it was graphic, but because I found the song in the advertisement to be really, really catchy. Not a good thing.

OK, so back to my train of thought. Today I came across a brilliant PSA about seatbelt safety from Sussex Safer Roads in the UK. Wow. A beautifully constructed video with a solid, touching message that hits home. Wonderful!

So I thought, why aren’t there more examples like this? I though of the recent, bizarre political ads from New Orleans and the misdirected, personal attack ads from two of our Canadian political parties. Am I naïve to believe that positive messages can bring us forward as a society, and that all of this negativity is truly a drain on our collective spirits? Maybe this ‘relatively new parenting thing’ is just rubbing off on me, giving me crazy ideas about hope and positivity.

Or maybe we just need to turn the corner.

8 thoughts on “Power of the Positive

  1. Alec,

    This one makes me think a little…(good thing on a Thursday evening). We’re both Dads of little kids, and I think that ‘positivity’ you speak of is inherent to the job description. Luckily, in addition to a few short years behind the parenting wheel, we also have experience in many classrooms over time, where we’ve learned that the adages of ‘don’t write kids off’, ‘hope for it’s own sake’, and ‘kids do great things, sometimes even in spite of us’ make me come back for more every semester, every year. I tell my students, my children, and anyone who gets close enough long enough that optimism is a choice. You’re not naive. You’re compassionate, and human, and a real thinking person. For that, your students are lucky (tell them I said so), and your children are fortunate. The much-mentioned ‘tipping point’ is always closer than we think. I hope that very much….

    Thanks for all you bring to my professional learning. I hope I can return the gesture sometime…

    Ryan Maksymchuk

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  3. I think we all respond to things of beauty and significance at a very deep level. Family is beautiful. Relationships are to be cherished. This PSA does a brilliant job pointing this out. Showing bodies flying and dead or injured friends has some shock value, and I guess sometimes we need to be shocked back to reality when we have moved so far from it that we can’t understand the beauty any longer. But I’m with you – positive messages are so much more attractive. As Ryan mentions, optimism is contagious – and a choice we must all make. Mainstream media seems to thrive on producing negative and controversial messages that resound with us all on a very base level. I think we would have a very different culture here if we celebrated the successes and the positive and the compassionate and the intelligent much more than Jersey Shore and political mosh pits.

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  5. I think that in a world that is full of so much negative that positivity is a very useful resource. This PSA sends a very powerful and effective message. In this society we become so desensitized to so much of what we see. I’ve never seen a commercial quite like this and I wish we had more of these types of messages being sent out. Maybe it would make people think a little harder about what really matters in life.

  6. Positivity…the perennial link to family lives lived in the vogue of Ozzie and Harriet, Leave it Beaver, or perhaps even Bonanza. A return to yesteryear when it was acceptable to value the inherent goodness of all people. The PSA provides a glimpse of that era. How refreshing!

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  8. I think there was some evidence that the anti-drink driving ads in the UK in the 90s had a big impact on reducing drink driving, but now it is on the increase again. I also remember hearing that the seatbelt ‘clunk-click every trip’ campaign in the 70s/80s was effective (although not as effective as legislation). These campaigns tend to be very memorable, for instance everyone of a certain age in the UK remembers the ‘Think once, think twice think bike’ campaign which featured a hammer smashing a peach apart – but as you say I don’t know if it actually influenced number of bike related deaths.
    If you haven’t seen them, in the 70s the British public safety films were quite possibly the scariest things ever – see this one and be afraid: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZWD2sDRESk


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