Sometimes you just can’t make this stuff up.
At least, that’s the thought I was left with this morning when I happened to see a television advertisement touting a particular company’s abilities to apply predictive analytics to ordinary situations and avoid a potential catastrophic loss.
However, in telling the story about the company’s capabilities to reduce risk and harm, they inadvertently sent the wrong message about protecting one’s life by practicing a reasonable degree of sun safety. And that’s the message that has resonated for me throughout the day.
The ad opens with a home in a location about to be hit by a snowstorm and low temperatures, putting the house at risk of broken water pipes. The family that occupies the home is on vacation, and is warned via a smartphone app and by virtue of the company’s ability to “connect the dots” that their home is at risk. So, they press a button on the smart phone and turn off the water pipes, thus avoiding a catastrophe.
So far so good.
However, when the ad “cuts” to the happy family enjoying their vacation what you see is a man and woman with a child cavorting on the beach, while Mom is getting baked. Yes, there were some shirts, and an umbrella was nearby–but clearly not being used. All I could keep thinking was I hope that child doesn’t get a sunburn—which is one of the major risk factors for skin cancer and melanoma later in life. Lying in the sun and getting tanned and/or burned is not exactly what we would call “risk reduction.”
So, predictive analytics saved the house, but it doesn’t appear to be doing much to save a life.
For me, the bottom line is that we need to pay careful attention to all the messages we send through advertising. Unintended as it may have been, having people soaking up the sun doesn’t help us address the reality that millions of people are diagnosed with skin cancer every year, and thousands of lives are lost. And many of those cancers could have been avoided if we would have known then what we know now.
Maybe we need an app for that…