Effective or Offensive?
Children are impressionable, this is a fact. Like sponges, they soak up their surroundings. Both literally and figuratively. (Have you ever seen a six-year-old’s jeans after a day at the park!?)
Because of this, advertisers are challenged every day to create impactful ads that send powerful messages, but don’t upset a younger audience. I remember seeing that PSA about drunk driving as a child. It got the message across: DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE BECAUSE YOU AND YOUR FRIENDS WILL GET IN A HORRIBLE, BLOODY CAR CRASH AND IT WILL BE AWFUL. I knew this, and still do, from these commercials. But I also remember having nightmares about this commercial. Multiple, terrifying nightmares about teens screaming and sirens wailing and metal bending and…oops, I just wet my sheets again.
The Advertising Standards Authority of the United Kingdom has conducted a survey and found out that approximately one third of children between the ages of 11 and 16 have been “upset or offended” by advertisements in the last year. “We cannot ignore the real concerns that have been raised, particularly around children,” Chairman of the ASA, Lord Smith said.
“Youngsters were particularly distressed by some charity adverts, which showed shocking scenes of suffering of people or animals to encourage people to donate money.” The Business Standard reported. “Researchers said children felt worried, anxious and guilty because they wanted to help but were unable to do so.”
Should charity advertisements that feature starving children, accident victims, and other hard-to-watch subjects be removed from television to alleviate the anxiety that it causes children, or is that anxiety a healthy part of fostering a well-rounded adult?
Well, for some people it’s the former and for others it’s the latter – and because everyone’s different, it’s kinda difficult to decide which path is “right”.
As advertisers, we have a responsibility to the public. Don’t make false promises, be truthful, and factual, and be creative while doing so. These are the corner stones of the industry. As far as we can tell, the marketing teams behind these PSA’s and not-for-profit campaigns have not broken any of these rules.
Check out a few of these ads below, and let us know if they’re effective, or offensive.