By Rick Stanton
If there is a more annoying, mind-numbing radio campaign in the history of advertising than the torture that is KARS4KIDS, please advise me. I have literally gotten out of the shower—soap and water flying—to shut off the radio when one of those ads rears its obnoxious, grating head.
Screw water boarding. If the people doling out torment and cruelty want a terrorist to talk, make him listen to one of these commercials for an entire day. But here’s the real problem with this campaign: it’s misleading in what it doesn’t say.
Minnesota’s attorney general discovered that, between 2012 and 2014, KARS4KIDS raised $3 million in that state alone, but less than $12,000 of the total went to help kids in Minnesota. Most of the money goes to support something called Oorah, a New Jersey-based charity that operates Jewish youth Summer camps in New York state.
I have no problem with what Oorah does for kids. What I have a problem with, besides the wretched advertising, is the lack of transparency. When people make a donation to a nonprofit or charity, they have the right to know where their money is going, Or in Minnesota’s case—not going.
I also have a problem with radio conglomerates that seem to have forgotten there is a thing called ethics, as applied to the conduct, roles and content of broadcasting. Once upon a time there were more than 40 radio signals in the Puget Sound region, with about 30 different local and regional owners who actually cared about their listeners and what did or didn’t make it on air. Now, with about three national ownership groups, the only thing that matters is money. This has a lot to do with how and why big media has turned on the advertising-agency industry—but that’s a rant for another day.
In conclusion, the ads must be working. Given the frequency increase, it must mean they have more revenue to spend on advertising. And I would surmise this also means less revenue to help kids go to Summer camp. Here’s a link for your reading pleasure that elaborates on the KARS4KIDS situation: https://www.charitywatch.org/charitywatch-articles/costly-and-continuous-kars4kids-ads-disguise-charity-39-s-real-purpose/179