Tuesday, July 26, 2005


I'd be happy to see Britain do the same as some other European countries and ban the use of children in advertising. Most commercials that use, or exploit, children are pretty nauseating.
So here's an odd thing. I'd expect to be averting my eyes from a commercial that had children playing adults in a role-reversal scenario. Yet I always find myself watching the Vauxhall commercials that do just that. To say I enjoy them would be over-stating it. But, rather than throwing bread rolls at the television, I think something along the lines of 'great concept, perfectly executed', and I fell to wondering why.

The first reason is that the children perform so well and don't ham it up. Well, not much.
The second reason is that they're not dressed as mini-adults with false moustaches and briefcases.
And the third reason is that the children - how shall I put this - are not very telegenic. To put it another way, you'd wait a very long time before anybody said they were 'cute'. Oh, to hell with it, they're really quite ugly little bastards.
If they or their parents do an internet search for the Vauxhall ads, I'm really terribly sorry. But surely you must have got an inkling when you saw all those cute little boys and their mothers coming out of the auditions in tears? Or when the casting director said "So he's 11 years old and he weighs 10 stone? Excellent!"

In the latest in the series, the new neighbour who is doing well enough to afford a new Vauxhall is played by an Asian boy. But even here they've managed to find quite a plain-looking Asian boy with spectacles.
"Somebody's doing all right", say the white boys. In real life they'd be quite likely to say "I bet he got that on the social security". But let's not cavil. At least they're showing upwardly mobile ethnic minorities.

On the other hand, whilst the skin colour of the neighbour isn't an issue, the message seems to be that you judge the worth of your new neighbour by the number of features on his people carrier.
That in turn raises the question of whether advertising reflects the world we live in or helps to shape it. Or possibly does both. And whatever the nature of the process, should we be involving young children in promulgating the dubious values of the advertising industry and consumerism?
But I didn't intend to get that analytical.
Only to say that these particular ads are nowhere near as irritating as they should be. Well, not to me but they may be to you.


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