Happy Red Nose Day. Here in the UK today sees the culmination of two years of planning and fund raising for the latest “Comic Relief – Red Nose Day“. The event is a major television fund raiser, led by Britain’s comedians and comic actors. The idea behind it is to raise money for projects in Africa and the UK – and have a laugh at the same time. But every two years when we get this “telethon” I know people who don’t laugh – they cry. They see film reports of children in dire circumstances, able only to live on the streets, or perhaps even forced to kill their own parents. Harrowing tales of the difficult circumstances that people find themselves in make people pick up the phone and pledge some cash. They raise millions in one day doing this. It is a fantastic scheme; relatively rich people in the UK donate some of their money to help those in poorer circumstances. However, as a child psychologist I know of debates about the fairness of such activities. The whole notion that children need “rescuing” from specific situations can sometimes take us too far: on occasions our rescuing of children from what we find as emotionally disturbing circumstances can do more harm than good. A child on the streets, selling small items can, to our Westernised eyes, seem in dire circumstances. But they may be able to use the cash they raise to buy clothes – even pay for some education. Take them off the streets, return them to their homes and they may not be able to afford any food. True, it’s a difficult balance to strike – but sometimes our emotions get the better of our logic. Of course that doesn’t mean you should not donate – projects like those run by Comic Relief make a huge difference. But the way they achieve their success is illuminating. They do it by triggering emotions. Millions of pounds raised in just one day, all because they pull our heartstrings. So, how much does your marketing pull at people’s emotions? Do you sell on “logic” or “emotion” – all of the research on sales will tell you that emotion is by far a bigger seller than logic.
To donate to Comic Relief now please visit their web site at http://www.comicrelief.com/