Why some photos don’t need cut-lines

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

I’ve just read President Obama’s address about the liberation of Auschwitz and his efforts to put into words what was an unthinkable and tragic chapter in global history.

“The noble acts of courage performed by liberators, rescuers, and the Righteous Among Nations remind us that we are never powerless,” Obama said. “In our lives, we always have choices. In our time, this means choosing to confront bigotry and hatred in all of its forms, especially anti-Semitism.”

But it’s the photos that are circulating online today that really tell the story — the emotions they stir up, as well as the shame and contempt they continue to provoke some 69 years later.

This is the power of great photos like the one shown here — a photo that invites us to reflect on the past and challenges us to not ever again be complacent in the face of evil. These are photos that need no cut-lines.

Two visitors walk inside the snow-covered Holocaust Memorial in Berlin.


Pros and cons of celebrity endorsement

Neil Young’s recent tour to raise awareness for the environmental issues surrounding the oil sands in Alberta should be of great interest to all strategic communications practitioners.

Often we’re asked by our clients to find a celebrity whose notoriety will help to bring public attention to a worthy cause, in hopes the celebrity’s fame will add credibility to that cause and the people who champion it. The same goes for celebrity endorsements of products and services. The thinking is that if Neil Young is for it, and you like Neil Young, then you’ll also be in favour of what he’s supporting.

I like Neil Young and I admire what he is doing in trying to get Canadians focused on the environmental challenges associated with oil extraction and delivery out West. But more than what he’s saying about the oil sands, I like that he’s taking a stand. I like that he’s ruffling feathers. And more importantly, I’m glad that no matter what you think of his position, he’s getting people to talk about sustainability.

Some people are outraged by what he said on tour, but no matter. The point of this celebrity endorsement was to kick-start a conversation. Mission accomplished.

It’s interesting that another musician, Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy, also let his opinion be known on CBC over the weekend. It’s more balanced, but as emphatic about the need to engage in a national conversation about environmental and social issues.


Two different national icons.Two different approaches. But the outcome is the same. Now, let’s see if this celebrity endorsement thing really works, and by that I mean, is anyone in the political realm listening?