Give Back: Be an Ape

It is no secret that 834 is passionate about community engagement. Not only do we practice it in our personal lives, we ensure it overflows into our business and the clients we represent. We firmly believe giving back to the community that supports us is a privileged responsibility. But what piece of us controls our desire to give? Is it the brain, the heart, our conscience? Why do some feel more compelled to give than others? A variety of reasons come to mind:

  • I’m supposed to, right?
  • I couldn’t say no to a [fill in the blank]
  • It makes me and/or my business look good
  • I enjoy it
  • I have been given so much in life; it’s only right that I share these gifts with others
  • I just really like Girl Scout Cookies, okay?

These are all legitimate answers, although some more selfless than others. I’ll clue you in on something: they are all wrong. Allow me to explain why.

Think of the last charitable advertisement you watched on TV, clicked-through to on social media or flipped past in a magazine—what was the appeal? In terms of charitable giving, nearly all ads are designed to make you feel something (empathy, motivation,guilt, etc.). The secret to success, however, does not lie in the ad’s ability to render emotion within you; the secret is in your genes. No, not the wallet inside of your jeans; your actual genetic coding.

A recent public service announcement for Operation Smile, an international medical charity helping heal the smiles of children born with cleft lips, created by F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi is asking viewers to devolve, comparing our innate concern for others to that exemplified by monkeys. The video chronicles two monkeys in a research facility, one of which is given a giant plate of fruit and the other left inside his cage to drool over his comrades spoils. Without hesitation, the first monkey uses his handy-dandy opposable thumbs to let the second join him. Still lost? A comparison for you.

You are leaving a restaurant with your husband, toting a to-go box because you couldn’t find room in your stomach. A man, obviously homeless and potentially hungry, passes you on the way to your car. Almost instantaneously, your desire is to extend the box of food to him–you never eat leftovers anyway. But you stop, resist and continue to the car.

By asking us to devolve, the PSA is pointing out that we have abandoned the foundation upon which our existence was built–giving and supportive, united together against Tyrannosaurus Rex and his posse of velociraptors… or something like that. Every day we over-think and over-do, too concerned by our own wants and needs to consider those of others.

What if all advertisements stripped away the bells and whistles to present one simple, prehistoric truth? Can devolving change the world and our treatment of others? It’s a difficult concept to process, particularly for the creative visionaries leading our world to buy, buy, buy and sell, sell, sell. Are we using our genius for madness or greatness? Of all questions raised, there is one truth that remains–the power of advertising is never lost when executed flawlessly.

Now go eat a banana and change the world.

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