"The idea is simple: as you tear open the sachet you also rip through the child’s leg and the ketchup inside pours out like blood."

Every time a yuppie tears open a packet of ketchup in a trendy cafe, a child loses a leg. Or at least I assume that’s the intended message of these snappy little items that Publicis Mojo designed for CALM: New Zealand Campaign Against Landmines.

Oh, no, wait: it’s our old friend “awareness.” I haven’t been able to find the press release, but according to The Daily What, it includes the following quote:

“Using a ketchup sachet, we demonstrated the horrific nature of living in a land mine affected country and how much a part of everyday life that horror is. The idea is simple: as you tear open the sachet you also rip through the child’s leg and the ketchup inside pours out like blood.”

This is amazing. It’s like some sort of super-meta badvocacy: so bad that it shines a light on badness everywhere, and almost becomes good – nearly becomes a clever satire on the idea that encouraging people to think that they are squeezing the bloody viscera of a maimed child onto their french fries is really what need to happen to make the world a better place, because really, how could that not be a joke? Almost. Nearly. Teetering on the edge. Only falls short one tiny smidge.

(The smidge? That the net effect of the campaign was almost certainly to ensure that, when Kiwis hear about landmines, they develop an instant craving for french fries.)

Mmmm, french fries. Maybe I’ll buy some for the fabulous Nina, who alerted me to this campaign in all its ketchupy glory.

(Lucky charms will be awarded to any readers who can find me a link to the full press release, or explain to me why this campaign is suddenly all over the internet now, even though it’s actually from back in 2006.)

Amanda Taub


  1. This is a really, really bad idea … if you lack imagination.

    On the other hand as a Dad I'd say this could spark off an interesting conversation with one of my kids.

    And yes the sarcastic, sneering response to that suggestion is I'm sure very helpful, but maybe not as helpful as selling something a bit daft, that gernerates a bit of publicity, that pays for some landmines to get taken out of the ground. Or am I missing the point?

  2. That's it. We need to have an awards program for these things. I propose a February evening. Let's start working on categories.

  3. Seriously, one wonders who the hell are the on the (assumed?) media and marketing teams for these org's.

    Last night in the UK, a new ad aired – which is also in similarly bad taste – war child has, apparently, teamed up with some War Xbox video game (called "war fighter" or something along those lines) and for every game bought (You TOO can learn to virtually blow people apart – way hay!) a % goes to warchild.

    In some bizarre way I get their thinking – but, like the landmine campaign – it lacks all standards of decency.

    (another is National Geographic – and while one would assume they are pro env – have, inexplicably, teamed up with ambi-pure the room sprays. Of course with their long standing affiliation with the diamond and car market maybe it’s not that weird…)

  4. Duckrabbitblog,

    I have kids too – but I think in cases like this, it really is beyond what is appropriate. There are other ways of getting the point across, and regarding kids, I think it is up to us as parents to be aware of what the issues are – and to present them in an appropriate way. Plus, now you have two conversations to deal with – what the hell it represents, and why it could have been illustrated in a better way.

    Plus, with kids – I don't think they Should all be exposed to the same level of stuff at the same age – so a discussion of war/mines might be ok, even good for a 15+ year old, but not for a young kid – and hey, they also eat ketchup, so could also see it.

    I work in dev (and my brother and other friends work in conflict/recovery) so I am well aware of the problems out there and the need for all people to take an interest and stand up, but at the same time, I sure as hell wouldn't want my kids to know about land mines at a young age.

    Isn't that also the whole point at in the final analysis? To allow kids – everywhere – to have childhoods. And that includes an innocence, when they are young, about what the world consists of.

    Children need to have a sense of hope about what is possible, and what they can do to change things for the better – and presenting such graphic images is absolutely not the way about it in my mind. ("hey kids, here's some violence to illustrate the pointlessness of violence!")

  5. @Avram … wow you kept your kids from watching Tom and Jerry … I'm impressed!

  6. Duckrabbitblog,

    well 1) they don't have 'tom and jerry' (sadly) here in the UK, although I watched it as a kid in N America.

    2) Tom and Jerry is hardly the same as a ketchup pack meant to show a landmine example.

    3) Going by your example – that all media/shows are equal – what, Harry Potter is the same as the Exorcist then? The Shining is now the same as the Flintstones? Images of children (real not cartoon) and their limbs being ripped off, and the issues that come with that, the same as Tom and Jerry? Hmm, glad you’re not in control of children's TV!

    4) The point, is surely, it's less about what I'm keeping my kids from watching (re Cartoons, and, going off-topic, my issue with some of them is generally how asinine many of they are – give me Sesame Street over some of the awful kids cartoon they have here any day) and more about how issues can be appropriately raised and publicised.

    5) btw – Going by your original comment I would say the people who came up with this lacked the imagination – blood, ketchup, really obvious food item – hardly what I called inspirational marketing.

  7. At first when I saw the ad campaign, I thought, 'Wow, that's a clever way of putting a message in the least likely of places.' But I see the point being made by the commentary and some of the the commenters.

    From what I gather the reasoning for considering this a bad awareness campaign is that it is too realistically graphic and violent. And that by employing the visual representation of the actual thing that you are trying to stop, because it is such a violent and disturbing image, you risk even greater desensitization to an audience that is already bombarded everyday with violence in the media. So, instead of the shock value and stopping power that was intended, the topic of landmines injuring or killing people–and more specifically the visual depiction of being maimed–becomes inane and trivialized, or even comical.

    And the arguments for why its a good campaign is that while it does become another instance of violence bombarding our mind, this is different from, say, a video game, or a movie in that this is creating awareness about an issue that is real and is actually happening in the world. Clearly it has struck a nerve with people when people are commenting about how it is inappropriate or in bad taste. When is it appropriate? Especially when the target audience are people who don't know about the issue. How do you begin to even show the atrocity of land mines and what they can to without making people uncomfortable?

    To caveat, I do think this would be inappropriate for a young child to understand, though not for a thinking young adult. And yes, the press release is pretty terrible…

    But if it does get some yuppie to pause and reflect, maybe even go to their website to learn more, donate money, or even volunteer then isn't that the point?

  8. Anonymous,

    I agree with your summary and I agree that that main issue, really is: "How do you begin to even show the atrocity of land mines and what they can to without making people uncomfortable?"

    But that's the point, there Has to be some sort of a line between how these issues are raised and surely that line is common sense. Is it a good idea to use a ketchup pack to illustrate a landmine, not the least as Katmanda point out, it really puts your mind on food and fries (if anything!), and as you point out, trivialises any real awareness about landmines. I think the line should be does this make you, instinctively react with WTF?? I think if the answer to that is Yes (as it should be and most likely is with most thinking adults) then the line has been crossed.

    Sure it is subjective, and a judgement call, but, esp with the rapid transfer of knowledge/ideas these days – often unfiltered – there has to be some underlying common sense.

    A few other examples:

    the underwear drive (mothers for underwear of something along those lines) that are collecting underwear (including used) to give out in Africa. (WTF?)

    The Darfur vidoe (I think cited on wronging rights) with that actress from Entourage licking a Popsicle and talking about Darfur (WTF?)

    How about aid drops that have, in the past, included such ridiculously inappropriate items as high heels, caviar, perishable food etc. (WTF?)

    Personal experience:

    once years ago working in South America with the indigenous amerinidians some volunteers wanted to "give something to the local community" – by giving them balloons, glittery pencils and some other transient, limited items (WTF?). This to a non-monetary, tribal group living as subsistent farmers. Look, I'm not anti-capitalism (far from it) but common sense alone will tell you that bringing in a few items like this to a group of children (when there was no paper even available) that will then want them (and there were not enough to go around) was inane at best and damaging at worst….how about a football or a frisbee I suggested? Something that everyone can play that shows similarities between people rather than disparities. Pretty obvious I'm sure you will agree.

  9. Or in post-tsumani Sri Lanka, one volunteer I met wanted to get BA to fly over 100s of student (& totally inexperienced) volunteers to "help with the disaster response". Anyone who was there will know that the point was less about people than about emergency funding, getting infrastructure back up as fast as possible, ensuring there was adequate emergency shelter for those who lost their homes, and ensuring there was no spread of disease – the idea of adding to that mix volunteers (to do what exactly?) which would then be a drain on the few resources (communication, roads, vehicles) was absurd. (agin WTF?)

    I think with something like Landmines, the way forward might not be easy and publicity friendly, but I’m sure it could be shown that any publicity brought about by (say) Ketchup packs has not/will not transfer to any real engagement with the issue. Also, sure partnerships can be good – UNICEF and Pampers is one I think works ok – a % of money from each pampers bought goes to Vaccinations (the issue behind how much money is donated in reality etc is another issue). How about teaming up landmine funding/awareness with wider organisations , or as a poster mentioned on another post topic, setting up endowments. The point also should be with something like landmines perhaps the way forward should be to automatically discard publicity friendly, easy answers.

    (final point – these ideas are being put forward by media/PR people – and who are they, what are their qualifications to be able to effectively deal with it? In the movie Bruno, he meets with two – apparently real – PR consultants who – apparently Actually give advice to celebrities wanting to enter the giddy world of ‘humanitarian aid/involvement’. It’s worth watching, as clearly we have to question who is behind these PR campaigns.)

    Anyway, that’s my two (or ten!) cents worth.

  10. I want to start a collection of this sort of stuff! Awareness kitsch could be whole new collectors field.

    I understand why groups do this sort of stuff but I'm always left with the feeling that creative media skills could be used in a more targeted and far more effective way. As is, the hook of a campaign like this is just too temporary.

    Love the blog!

  11. Symbolically ripping a child's leg off, for whatever reason, is just plain disgusting. The willingness to exploit the tragedy and disability of the very people this organization is seeking to serve, leaves such a bad taste in my mouth. In fact, this reminds me very much of the Miss Landmine Angola 2008 Pagent.

  12. "Symbolically ripping a child's leg off, for whatever reason, is just plain disgusting."

    I think newsoutofafrica has summed it up best. Totally agree.

  13. I wonder if the Ketchup producers realized how badly this image will affect their market now!! wont ppl, (kids) be afraid of opening the bloody thing then!!! ?? just wondering …

  14. Children need to have a sense of hope about what is possible, and what they can do to change things for the better – and presenting such graphic images is absolutely not the way about it in my mind.

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