Thursday, May 15, 2008

Kids and/in commercials

Continuing on my TV spots riff... I had wanted to embed a bunch of videos to write about really briefly, all of them incorporating kids, but I'm having a hell of a time finding some. So I'll assume that others have seen the Ikea commercial showing the excited parents and the young daughter that's barking orders as if they're kids, or have seen the Burger King commercial where the parents beg and plead and whine with their very young son to let them go get some fast food.

They're part of a weird trend in commercials that appears to invert parent-child power relations and it's already been beaten to death - the commercials are somewhat amusing the first time but grate the second or third time before you realize that they're simply insulting - for parents and their children. There's something almost cute about the way that they ostensibly empower kids on the first viewing, but it is, of course, a patronizing sort of empowerment (the commercials are just ridiculous enough that adults will recognize these could not be real children) that they ostensibly hope kids will misrecognize as entitlement. (And if you know any children who have a tendency to act with unearned or undeserved entitlement, this is no pleasant thing.)

What's interesting, of course, is that even the non-profits use this strategy, albeit more subtly:

It's a far less patronizing commercial - as a friend pointed out to me, the "Please, David" is a surprisingly respectful touch - but I wonder if it's fair to reduce it to the same endgame: like Burger King, in the end they just want kids to badger their parents to buy stuff. Enviro-friendly stuff, of course, but... or maybe I'm just asking for too much from the format.

Of course, we can always count on anti-drug campaigns to come up with the most fantastically over-wrought, unsubtle, and totally thoughtless crap. This gem features kids exclusively but makes no effort to actually communicate a message to them, aiming the spiel explicitly at the parents. (So rather than talk to children, we're expecting their parents to write down or remember the website, visit it, read the stuff, and then retransmit it? Wha?) What makes it particularly entertaining and disturbing, though, is the palpable horror aesthetic. Truly bizarre:


omar karindu said...

Trust me, American anti-drug PSAs do even more with horror aesthetic. Some examples:

Anonymous said...

Wow, I really like the way you critically examine these ads!

Here's another one, more for adults than children.