Photo: Ragu via YouTube
Ragu’s recent ad following a young boy as he walks in on his parents in the bedroom, has stirred debate over how children are featured in ads. While children in ads tend to illicit feelings of kindness and tenderness, they can also make viewers feel a little, well, awkward.And, this got us thinking: how else have advertisers used children in awkward situations to sell products?
There has to be a reason these borderline creepy ads are effective. For one thing, according to Psychology Today, effective advertising occurs when you “take a product and to put it next to lots of other things that we already feel positively about.” For most people, seeing a picture of a child, no matter what the context, incites such positive feelings.
To demonstrate just how well this works, we put together a slideshow of 12 of the most awkward television and print ads featuring children. The list focuses on ads intended to sell products or services, and does not include public service announcements.
This BGH Air Conditioners ad, created by Saatchi & Saatchi, follows a set of men doing a series of normal things -- cutting the grass, watching TV, eating breakfast, all while only wearing briefs. The children featured the ad do not appreciate this look on their dads. The 50 second spot worked so well that is was a gold winner at Cannes this year.
Remember the dancing baby from Ally McBeal? Well, in this ad by BETC Euro RSCG advertisers re-upped the animated baby meme, fashioning them as professional, adult roller skaters. Weird, yes, but, effective. The roller babies went viral in 2009.
This ad, created by Stately Mansion, tells the viewer, don't be an egghead. That is, if you literally have an egg for a head do not put your son in karate and do not spend too much money on a hotel room because presumably you will have the same result. Why the poor egghead boy had to have his head punched in for the sake of a hotel room ad is unclear, but one thing is for sure -- this ad is uncomfortable.
Harmony Korine directed this ad for the fashion label Proenza Schouler in 2011. The epic commercial clocks in at 4 minutes and 37 seconds long, and depicts two young girls wearing Native American dress and creepy white masks, wandering around the Southwest and singing in unnaturally high-pitched voices. In an interview with Adweek, Korine said the spot was inspired by a man that ''kept a gun in the freezer, and breathed through a machine at night,' and whom he once saw 'turn into a goat and run around the living room.''
Saatchi & Saatchi created this ad for Fruit Gushers narrating the 90 second story of 'Todd,' a boy born with a squirting blue Fruit Gusher instead of an eye. The highpoint of the commercial is when the Todd squirts Gushers into his father's mouth. Why would he do that?
Created by Digital Kitchen, this commercial promoting a short-lived reality series starring David Hasselhoff and his family, features a toddler boy with chest hair and red swim trunks running down the beach. As the ocean breeze lightly feathers the little one's chest hair, and sunbathers watch on, the tagline reads: 'Some people are born awesome.' Needless to say, the show didn't see a second season.
Fiat's, 'A Myth is Born Again' ad campaign features a series of children fashioned as famous Hollywood starlets, such as this one, with a little girl posing as the seductive Marilyn Monroe.
The 2009 Science World ad, 'Bungee Baby,' created by Rethink Communications, was part of a larger campaign to promote the 'Scream! The Science Fear' exhibition at Science World. The goal of the ad was to tempt readers into learning more about the exhibit by grabbing their attention with the line, 'Daredevils are born loving fear.'
Sony's Cybershot ad, created by Saatchi & Saatchi, is an image of schoolchildren posing for a class photo, underwater. Though unnerving, the ad does demonstrate how well the camera can take underwater photos.
The Sony PS2 ad is a simple headshot of a toddler with what appears to be light skin overlaying dark skin. The accompanying tagline explains: 'Be somebody else.'
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