Adverts never used to make me scream, but now I’m horrified whenever anyone on TV says ‘Hut’, whenever I hear the build up to the piercingly shrill shriek-fest that is a Boots advert and, more to the point, whenever those demonic Evian babies skate across my screen. Those babies are the hellish love-children of the Cloverfield monster and whatever kept freaking that couple out in Paranormal Activity. Note to Evian advert people: seeing babies rollerskating and dancing is not cute, it is unnatural. The way you contort their bodies is repulsive and your disregard for the physical health of your CGI-Monsters and for the mental health of the unsuspecting viewer is almost as odious as the spectacle itself.
I fear that this advert is merely indicative of a trend that refuses to stop growing. There is an inexorable plague of children on TV. There are a couple more eye-stabbing Kid-centric adverts floating around at the moment, both supported by the government. The first is a swarm of children singing ‘I’ll Do Anything’ in a bid to stop their parents smoking, and the second a load of children talking about how alcohol is going to mess their lives up when they get older. Fact time. The smoking kids don’t care about stopping their parents from smoking. They just want to be on TV. Children love attention. They love attention more than chocolate, Spongebob Squarepants and certainly more than the state of their parents’ lungs. Children are selfish. The youngest members of the AA are probably looking forward to being able to get ‘mash-up’. One boy appears to promise himself a future where he will be offered drugs in a nightclub. He then proceeds to brush his teeth with such fervor for his ever so exciting future. One thing that children love more than getting attention is sticking it to their parents.
Now, humble reader, you may feel the need to interject at this point and tell your immodest columnist that I clearly have underlying issues with my own childhood, but this is not the case. This is how the ad-men want you to treat people who find the sight of children on TV abhorrent instead of cute, endearing and guilt inducing. The children in the public service announcements are menacingly attached to horrific social malaises as if they are the true victims of an uncaring society. We are being constantly asked to consider future generations, to make life better for them. All I envision is a new generation of apathetic droids emerging with a fag sticking out of their collectively foppish mouth and an enormous bottle of Cherry Lambrini in hand to chug on the way to the discotheque.
So, perhaps I am uncaring. Perhaps I am soulless, and I should let myself be madly affected by the government’s children. Perhaps I should just sit back and relax while the three horsemen of the infant apocalypse scourge the ne’er-do-wells who dare to listen to their warnings, but I refuse to remain idle. Any advert campaign with children in it is destined to fail. I refuse to be conned by the acts of desperate ad-men who can’t think of a tool more convincing than shoving careless sprogs into the glare of the public eye to sell water, or to say that climate change is a bad thing, or that perhaps by eating sweetcorn one might turn into a big green giant. It adds a whole other specious dimension to the already mindless advert break. Rant over, it’s time to make myself a coffee. The adverts are on.
Given that smoking (the single biggest drain on the NHS) is a habit people often start when very young, and given that parents are the single biggest influence on any given young person (whether they know it or not), it is pretty reasonable for the advert to target parents. How do you get parents to take notice? By bringing their kids into the picture. The point of the advert goes beyond whether the kids directly care if a person does or does not give up smoking. By showing young children full of energy and suggesting you give up smoking for them (implying that the end result will be an improvement), it reminds parents what they already know: that they are damaging their kid’s health by indulging their habit, be it directly through passive smoking or indirectly by being a bad role model.
I think your comment arises from the mistaken idea that the ad is in any way targeted at you. This is a misconception – you are clearly not the demographic, and so it is not surprising that the ad doesn’t really carry any weight with you. As for the Evian ad – well I do kind of agree that it is a bit scary. But I think it’s meant to be a joke (“let’s observe the effect of Evian on your body”)
26 Feb 2010, 22:49
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