World For All is an association that cares for abandoned and sick animals and forwards animal adoption or re-homing of those that have been left in the streets. During their 2013 campaign, they posted an ad that definitely draws attention for more reasons than one. It is a black and white ad with a grey background. It shows a man at the edge of a black rooftop with his hands and feet in a position that shows his intention to throw himself off the roof, while his leashed dog seems to be pushing the man towards the opposite direction and prevent his jumping. Although people usually hold the dog leash and can easily let it go with the opening of their palms, in this case, it seems that the dog is the one that does not let go and that the man is leashed from the dog. The dog seems powerful and holds back the man from falling and hurting himself, despite the latter’s strength. Another powerful realization when looking closer at the ad is that the building on which the man is trying to fall from actually looks like a wild animal ready to savage the man, with a balcony right below the man that looks like open jaws ready to devour the man. It is as if the building is waiting for the man to jump down the roof.
Everything in shades of black, white, and gray and the only colored part of the ad is the leash the dog wraps the man with, which is red. Red is the color of blood, red is also the color of energy, passion and the need for action. One could say that red is the color of life itself. For that reason, it provokes a powerful message to the audience about life. Between the man and the dog there is a verbal element that writes “ Dogs cure depression. Adopt one” in italicized fonts. It does not imply anything, but states it out loud. Dogs can help people cure depression.
Color is an important stimulus dimension commonly used in visual advertising to create emotion and audience responses towards the brand advertised (Percy and Rossiler). Maybe color in ads influence attitudinal response in a very positive way (Dooley and Harkins), a black and white version of an ad is equally effective when it comes to transmitting emotion and belief-based responses to what is advertised (Dooley and Harkins). In this case, with the black and white use of color the message is clearer and stronger, as it depicts the way depressed people see the world: colorless, emotionless, meaningless. It would not be the same if it had color, as it would probably let the message slip away unnoticed. In fact, the ad is black in its vast majority and only the sky is gray, which is worse, since there is no “ hope”-white anywhere. Now everybody viewing this black and white ad and the verbal aid, as described before, is probably prepared to come face to face with a problem taking place in the darker side of life, and the reality of some people, who are members of the human society.
Out times are characterized by elevated anxiety and stress. Sometimes, the things one has to do within a day overwhelm and for some people all those excessive demands in life, plus the lack of a sentimental relationship or a closer family relationship create a sentimental gap that is like a volcano boiling. They have started seeing life more like a black and white picture than colored one. At some point that emotional volcano erupts and then lava is released. People get “ burnt” so much and seem unable to cope or handle their emotions and state of mind, or their depressing feelings. It is then when they see the world is rather black and gray than anything else. This is how the selected ad depicts that world.
In the ad, depression is a fact and despite what people with depression think, there is a cure: dogs! However, societies do not seem ready to cope with depression, judging from the ad. Like aforementioned, the balcony below the man has a strange jaw-like shape, it looks more than a wild animal’s teeth; as if the building is waiting for the man to jump. This could be a depiction of how societies treat people with depression. They may not wait for depressed people to jump of roofs, but appear rather indifferent towards the depressed people’s situation, which definitely does not prevent them from hurting themselves. It is like a silent concession on behalf of society to what depressed people think and believe at the time. And if societies don’t take a stand to help those people, when they ignore the problem it is the same as pushing them off the roofany roof. According to an article posted in The Guardian only a few days back, “ Fewer than half of the patients who sought NHS help last year for anxiety and depression received any treatment, an official report into the government’s ” talking therapies” programme reveals” (Campbell). It is clear that people do not seem to care much about other people’s issues. It is a dog that tries to stop the man from falling and not another human.
The selected ad shows a way out of depression. When “ talking therapies” do not work, having a pet is indeed proven stress-relieving and depression-fighting. There are many hospitals that use dogs as part of their treatment, which they believe is more effective when patients interact with specially trained dogs, and studies have shown that animals can help make people with mild to moderate depression elevate their mood and feel better (Doheny). Of course, no one rejects treatment, but along with it, having a pet is proven to reduce tension and make individuals feel better. Having a dog has multiple effects on people with depression. For starts, with a pet, one just feels and does not worry about complicated relationships or hurting another one’s feelings (Doheny). Also, people with depression need to have a routine; it does good to them, and a dog’s natural routine ensures that (Doherty). Dogs also help to have social interactions, better health, companionship, and petting them lowers the heart rate (Doherty). This all shows how the Americans feel about having pets. They love pets, especially dogs and embrace the idea of adopting one. Perhaps, it is their way to make things up with one another. Maybe by trying to have pets in their lives, they actually want to make peace with their inner self, and everybody around them. Skip depression and live a more humane life when compassion and beautiful feeling for one another prevail.
Campbell, Denis (2014). “ The NHS is ‘failing to treat depressed patients’”. The Guardian. Web. Jan. 24, 2013
Doheny, Kathleen (n. d). “ Pets for Depression and Health”. Web. Jan. 24, 2013
Dooley, R. P. and Harkins, L. E. (1970). ” Functional and Attention-Getting Effects of Color on Graphic Communications,” Perceptual and Motor Skills, 31, 851-854.
Larry Percy and John R. Rossiter (1983). ” Effects of Picture Size and Color on Brand Attitude Responses in Print Advertising”, in NA – Advances in Consumer Research Volume 10, eds. Richard P. Bagozzi and Alice M. Tybout, Ann Abor, MI : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 17-20.