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The Failure of "Almost"

Since the 1940s, the Ad Council has been the leading producer of public service announcements. Of the thousands of commercials they have produced, their work for the "Don't Almost Give" campaign has been particularly powerful.

One ad shows a man with crutches struggling to go up a flight of concrete stairs. The narrator says, "This is a man who almost learned to walk at a rehab center that almost got built by people who almost gave money." After a brief pause, the announcer continues: "Almost gave. How good is almost giving? About as good as almost walking."

Another ad shows a homeless man curled up in a ball on a pile of rags. One ratty bed sheet shields him from the cold. The narrator says, "This is Jack Thomas. Today someone almost brought Jack something to eat. Someone almost brought him to a shelter. And someone else almost brought him a warm blanket." After a brief pause, the narrator continues: "And Jack Thomas? Well, he almost made it through the night."

Another ad shows an older woman sitting alone in a room, staring out a window. The narrator says, "This is Sarah Watkins. A lot of people almost helped her. One almost cooked for her. Another almost drove her to the doctor. Still another almost stopped by to say hello. They almost helped. They almost gave of themselves. But almost giving is the same as not giving at all."

Each ad ends with a simple, direct message: "Don't almost give. Give."

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