Life Alert now takes its marketing very seriously. Maybe too seriously.
Rather than just have its old commercials be the laughing stock of anyone who's ever seen them, the company is doing its best to scare the living crap out of everyone who watches TV.
The new ad below ditches the brand's trademark testimonial cheesiness for straight up creepiness, with an old lady lying unnoticed in a heap at the bottom of a flight of stairs, screaming. It's quite disturbing, and a lot of viewers are leaving pissed-off comments on the brand's Facebook page.
"My own grandmother fell and cracked her hip and we brought her to the hospital immediately, but this just makes me feel so awful inside I start crying," writes one. "I'm 17 years old and this is way too scary. I don't want to see anyone in that much pain and crying when I'm just trying to enjoy my day. Please take it off the TV."
In fairness, some people are praising the commercial for driving the point home with a realistic depiction, and helping to convince their stubborn elders to buy the product.
Life Alert's response is basically that the whiners should suck it up, because it's sick of hearing them go on about how bad its prior ads were.
"We consistently hear horror stories of how families procrastinated in getting a Life Alert only to discover their loved one had fallen and was on the floor for hours (sometimes days) before someone found them," reads part of a statement posted at Consumerist.
"They have even complained that our commercials are corny, and NOT SERIOUS ENOUGH, and that our message doesn’t get through. The guilt and fear these families feel after a preventable tragedy is very real and far worse than any commercial."
Of course, punishing a mass audience for the unreasonable griping of a few who wouldn't take responsibility for their own failure to act doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Even if the old ads weren't effective.
Also, says Life Alert, it's the good guy: "Our goal is to wake people up to the realities of what is going on with the elderly and to get a medical alert system as a PREVENTIVE measure, not a reactionary result to a tragedy."
As reasonable—and somewhat noble—as the for-profit company's intentions may be, its posturing also kind of misses the point. There might be some middle ground between an ad that is an unintentional self-parody, and one that terrifies children. A less ham-fisted approach might persuade even more consumers, or at least alienate fewer.
Then again, when demand for your product is based on the ample supply of consumer anxiety about death, it's not surprising they're leaning in.