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(Un)funny or Offensive?: Volkswagen

(Un)funny or Offensive?: Volkswagen Despite repeated efforts, I can’t find the VW ad that’s got mental health advocates so pissed off. Apparently, the ad features a suicidal man standing on a ledge of a tall building, about to jump. He decides not to kill himself after he hears there’s a sale on VWs.

What is it, precisely, that mental health groups are worried about? That people will be spurred to throw themselves off of buildings because of a TV commercial? The Suicide Prevention Action Network USA (SPAN), the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, American Psychiatric Association, Mental Health America and National Alliance on Mental Illness have all condemned the ad. SPAN explains its objection on its website:

“Suicide is a major public health problem and it should not be trivialized. Commercials that portray suicide in this manner makes light of the anguish and tragedy that kills over 31,000 Americans each year. Help us take action on this ‘Teachable Moment.'”

I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that while this may be a teachable moment, it makes little sense to ban it. But then, I don’t like the idea of banning any form of freedom of expression, including stupid advertising. Granted, VW wouldn’t make an ad trivializing cancer, probably, but aren’t there more important battles for mental health advocates to fight?

If anyone finds the video of the commercial, I’d very much like to see it. Perhaps I’m wrong about this.

Mental health groups slam Volkswagen ad
Posted by liz at 11:08 AM

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