The Good, the Bad and the Breathtakingly Ugly


A week of extremes on the creative front.

The good (really, the great): “The Waiting Room,” a new documentary many years in the making that chronicles a day in the life of the ER at Highland Hospital in Oakland, CA. The patients here are “the least of these”–the medically complex, the poor, the uninsured and the high-utilizers of medical care and services (often expensive and repeated) and the doctors, nurses and staff, their passionate (and occasionally frustrated) advocates and caretakers. Director Peter Nicks says his aim was not to create a film “that would come and go,” but to build a “framework for engagement and empathy” that would give even the most marginalized individuals a voice and dignity. (Two more films in this series are in the works, focusing on the relationship between Oakland’s residents and other public institution: the police department and education system.) Every detail tells a story. Note the second-hand animated graphics that reveal the credits or the waiting room chair that serves as web icon. The Waiting Room, which has been in limited release throughout the country, will air on PBS this fall.

The bad: Bank of America, those wonderful folks who almost brought the housing and financial markets to their knees, is out with a new campaign demonstrating how they help you (individuals, businesses, innovators of all stripes) connect “with what is at the center of your life.” They are beautiful, heartwarming spots that in other hands and for another advertiser would be a triumph. Unfortunately for BofA, it will take more than pretty pictures to dispel the memories of foreclosures, fines and firings now associated with the brand. Cognitive dissonance, anyone?

The ugly: The NRA’s ad for the Dulles Gun Show in yesterday’s Washington Post that asserts: “universal background check = registration = confiscation.” Second amendment rights and free speech aside, even the most minimal advertising standards would require that marketers (especially cause marketers) substantiate their claims and that the media hold them accountable when they do not.

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