Caffeinated ideas and views on marketing communications

new style pop-ups

Adding insult

It seems that there is a new breed of call-to-action/pop-up ad that is seeking to shame you into an action and insult you if you choose not to take that action. I am not sure if it’s a trend, or there’s one provider that everyone is using for these, but lately I have seen them on several different organizational blogs.

What is happening is that you will attempt to go to a blog post and before you can read the post, a large pop-up appears. The pop-up will usually be asking you subscribe to a newsletter and will be forcing you to choose between two options (one to favor the action and the other to oppose it), since there is no way to close the pop-up otherwise.

The yes option will be intensely positive. It will say something like this: Yes, sign me up for your newsletter since I care about the Earth and will do my utmost to help keep it clean. *

The no option will be oppositional. It will say something like this: No, I don’t care about the Earth at all. I won’t lift a finger to help keep it clean.*

*These are made-up examples but they mirror what I have been seeing on blogs and websites for various organizations.


More traditional calls to action will provide two options that are more subdued and straightforward, something like  “Yes, I’d like to (subscribe, vote, etc.)” and “No thanks.”

Obviously, just because you don’t want to sign-up for a newsletter does not mean you do not care about the subject. Perhaps you don’t want another newsletter. Perhaps you want to read the blog post before you make a decision. But yet you are being asked, by clicking on that negative option, to affirm that you believe or support that very negative sentence.

This a trend that should disappear and quick. Insulting and shaming people to support your cause, even if it is a great cause, is a form of bullying. Bullying your readers is never a good idea.

Have you seen these? What are your thoughts?

Improve your blogging! Come to the How to Write Your Blog workshop next week, on September 18, in Washington, DC. More details and registration here:


About Deborah Brody

Deborah Brody writes and edits anything related to marketing communications. Most blog posts are written under the influence of caffeine.


Contact us today to learn how to improve your marketing and communications.