Laughter and Image Clash in PSA

DALLAS In a TV spot designed to startle viewers, Tribal DDB here combined stark images of starving African children with a laugh track from a television sitcom, the agency said.

The public service announcement for whatcanudo.org challenges viewers to turn away from their television sets to provide money or time to a charitable organization.

Text superimposed on the images reads: “For the next 30 minutes, you can enjoy your favorite sitcom or you can start making a difference. Your call.”

“Sound doesn’t always have to support the picture,” said Scott Johnson, executive creative director at Tribal DDB. “Sometimes, sound is more powerful when it collides with the picture. It’s a surprisingly little-used concept in filmmaking that goes all the way back to Sergei Eisenstein. When you see starving children and hear a laugh track at the same time, it puts a knot in your stomach. And that’s exactly what we wanted.”

Associate creative directors Braden Bickle and Travis Staut designed the spot, and art director Ted Angelilli developed the Web site, Johnson said.

Additional rich media ad units are planned in the coming months to continue to drive traffic to whatucando.org, the agency said.