'Deserve to Die' Campaign Puts Lung Cancer in Spotlight

Wisconsin agency knew work would be polarizing

A funny thing happens when you plaster U.S. cities with posters saying certain types of people "deserve to die." Namely, those people get a bit upset. Wisconsin agency Laughlin Constable and the Lung Cancer Alliance learned that this week when they launched teaser ads with messages like "Hipsters Deserve to Die" and "Cat Lovers Deserve to Die." The posters sparked news coverage in cities like Chicago, where some residents reportedly tore down some of the ads in anger. The lung cancer advocacy campaign, actually called "No One Deserves to Die," was supposed to be revealed at midnight today, but the full site seems to have gone live Wednesday after reporters began covering the public's reaction. "We knew that one would be polarizing," Laughlin Constable strategy vp Denise Kohnke told a Milwaukee TV station. One problem with the campaign is that the message is a bit difficult to grasp in short bites of copy. It's better explained on the website (be sure to scroll all the way down), which describes how lung cancer victims are unfairly stigmatized as having brought the disease on themselves. The result is that, despite being the "deadliest cancer," lung cancer is the least funded in terms of research. "Lung cancer doesn't discriminate, and neither should you," the site says. "Help put an end to the stigma and the disease." That's a bold and socially complex message, one that's tough to decipher from any ad, much less one that says “[a modern social archetype] deserves to die." But what do you think? Will it work?