Thursday, October 19, 2006

Phil the Sore

I first heard about Phil the Sore on "Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!" Phil's whole deal is to promote syphilis awareness as he plays the villain in a variety of ads, commercials, and even shows up at community events as a 3-D swollen, bumpy sore! Go on, kids! Gather 'round the Sore for a picture!

Now *I* would say that Phil falls into a category I talked about a long long time ago called "physical threat advertising."

Take a look at these negative/aggressive traits:
  • He's red--the color of anger, itself
  • Downturned eyebrows, which say, hey! I'm mad! but those curves at the end suggest he's mischievous as well
  • Tough buzz cut however sparse suggests a militaristic side
  • The earring is questionable--could be the Don't ask, don't tell part of the militaristic or a I'm so tough, I can take a small needle through the ear! I'm a rebel!
  • His eyes only want to look at you when he can be head-on with you
  • And he's baring his teeth
If you looked at the comments section of the "Physical Threat Advertising" post, one of my very smart, beautiful friends (and fellow blogger, publicprivate) had this to say:
You will find this funny, but I learned from my health messages classes in public health grad school that negative images practically never work. The only thing that works to get someone to do something is to punish them when they do it (or don't do it, if the case may be). But people rarely are scared from fear-based ads. Because we know the Rhyno can't actually see us, and won't actually come after us after we do something that is unhealthy. If the posters were a warning that there is a Rhyno on the premises and he will, in fact, kick your ass if you are participating in underage drinking, well, that's pretty convincing. Especially if you are witnessing, out of the corner of your eye, Rhyno beating someone up for underage drinking not ten feet away.

Seeing as Phil the Sore is specifically part of the public health sphere, I was wondering how he fares in the realm of health message effectiveness. He has many negative/aggressive traits, yet
may be on the premises and will essentially punish you so that makes him effective no matter how strange a mascot, eh? Or does his smile (which I find to make him seem opportunistic in conjunction with his eyebrows) and "cute-ification" (if there's something such as a cute sore) nullify the negativity?

Then again, if I was an onlooker who knew nothing about Phil, how would I know he's not The Angry Raspberry?

And just for comparison there's the brother campaign of Healthy Penis.

1 comment:

  1. scuddie4:10 PM

    I've never been quoted before! It's so exciting. Although, I can't exactly remember what I was originally writing about. Some rhino?
    I think the intent of Phil the Sore is awareness. More people know of him rather than are scared of him. People are like, "Yeah, did you see that sore?" And someone else would respond, "Yeah, it's about syphilis." Health message awareness achieved.
    Of course, those same people would proceed to have unprotected sex and contract the disease anyway.
    And he looks like the bad cousin of the a California raisin.

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