Late Friday, I posted a video of Haitians reading tweets tagged with “#FirstWorldProblems” because the imagery and the words — real people trapped in Third World poverty recounting the inanities of life in the richest country on the planet — struck me as a particularly original device for calling attention to a cause. (See the video below.)
In an online world littered with rote public service ads for good causes, this one stood out. It’s a fine piece of work by ad agency DDB NY for the non-profit WaterIsLife.
Because it was a video for a charity, however, I didn’t think it would be very popular with readers. Generally, Business Insider readers want breaking news and insight into the biggest companies we cover. Appeals for good causes, not so much.
Boy was I wrong.
Between Friday night and Sunday morning, the post became one of the best-read items on our Advertising channel this month.
It seems to have inspired a debate about what #FirstWorldProblems actually means. Many people think that the ad completely misunderstands the hashtag, and the ad therefore insults people who would normally be its target audience.
DDB said in a press release that it hopes to “eliminate the “#FirstWorldProblems hashtag on Twitter,” because it “showcases concerns that seem important to those living in wealthy, industrialized countries, yet are, fact, trivial compared to the issues faced by those struggling to survive in many parts of the world.”
Critics — you can read them in the comments section — point out that the purpose of #FirstWorldProblems is to ironically illustrate the fact that “problems” in wealthy countries just aren’t really problems. In other words, people who use the tag are actually aware of the type of problems that DDB’s video is supposed to draw attention to.
Check out the video for yourself, and use our comments section to tell us whether you think DDB has got this right or wrong: