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Amnesty ad compares arms trade to tsunami disasters

Amnesty ad compares arms trade to tsunami disasters

Oh, dear. Remember this fiasco?


Created by DDB Brazil for WWF Brazil, it ignited a firestorm of protest, which WWF’s international office first disavowed, then admitted may have been the approved regionally. On this year’s September 11th anniversary, Buzzfeed’s Copyranter named it #1 in his list of “The Five Worst 9/11 Exploitation Ads”.

You could say that it simply tells an inconvenient truth about inconsistent cultural attitudes towards tragedy and death. But that point would be made at the expense of causing further hurt to the families of the World Trade Centre attack, as well as to those deeply affected by it.

Now, strangely, the 2005 tsunami tragedy that is being exploited to make a point about war and the arms trade:


The ad is by TBWA, Paris, for Amnesty International.

This brings the saga of over-produced, tragedy-exploiting ads full circle: “an epic and tragic natural disaster killed more people than an infamous terrorist act, but the arms trade is even worse.”

(Admittedly, it could also be a reference to the more recent Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.)

Once again, creatives go for maximum impact to make one message of human loss at the cost of trivializing another. This kind of trade-off is a devil’s bargain, in my opinion. It’s all bad. You don’t need to get into a comparison of which is worse. From my perspective this looks like lazy strategy and the elaborate (yet derivative) execution is blatant award-bait.

And I say this as a member of Amnesty. You can do better than this. You often do.

Amnesty International
TBWA, Paris, France
Additional credits:
Creative Directors: Eric Holden, Rémi Noël, Philippe Simonet
Art Director: Mohamed Bareche
Copywriter: Daniel Perez
3D: Salamagica
Art Buyer: Barbara Chevalier
Ads of The World

I am Creative Director at Acart Communications, a Canadian Social Issues Marketing agency. Read more