Tag Archives: advertising

Child ate my Argos catalogue

21 Sep

Thank goodness for the power of advertising on children. No, really. If it weren’t for television I would have no idea what to buy my soon-to-be-4-year-old for her birthday. Sitting her down in front of the adverts had her list of must-haves written in the blink of a gnat’s eye (or the length of the ad break). I bow down especially to Cartoonito. A channel that truly has the knack of advertising cheap tat in a way that sends children into a paroxysm of consumerism. All whilst I visualise my bank balance slowly diminishing.

Such is the power of this constant stream that the phrase ‘brought to you by Argos’ now echoes around our house where once there would have been nursery rhymes. The repetition of ‘London 2012’ (delivered in the style of an X-Factor voiceover) was acceptable – it showed my daughter’s excitement at the Olympics and I’m only happy to have the power of physical activity sold to her. Who knows, those few weeks of sport may stop her from becoming an obesity statistic. But to be told that dinner has been ‘brought to you by Argos’ is a step too far. She has been sucked into the TV and spat out a sponge-like consumer. Her little brain looks at ordinary household objects and sees pink plastic, glitter, princesses and things that you shake with sand in them that make a bloody awful mess.

My husband thought we’d better double-check what was on my daughter’s final birthday wish list, lest we get it wrong. The fear of unleashing her wrath and disappointment if we did get it even moderately incorrect was too great. (So not only does the advertising exert power over the child, it gives Chinese burns to the hearts of parents.) I smiled smugly at my husband’s naive suggestion. What he didn’t realise was that the adverts that generated the original birthday list had already been replaced by a whole new suite of products and therefore, you’ve guessed it, a whole new list of items that a 4-year-old couldn’t possibly be without. Whatever we buy her is destined to be wrong, or at best inadequate.

There are no doubt people reading this thinking we should sod the telly and that our daughter should be grateful for whatever she gets. Yes, I once too subscribed to the Right On Theory of Parenting. Oh, we were going to keep the TV rationed and only buy wooden toys. This lasted until a fanfare sounded on the day of my daughter’s first birthday and an army of plastic started to march its way uninvited through the front door being whipped from behind by princesses and Barbie dolls. As uncomfortable as I may feel about it, I’m the first to admit I’ve let this happen. But do you know what? When I see my daughter’s face light up next week I’ll think that, well, she may unwittingly be the retailers’ dream but what the hell, she’s happy.

Yours angrily, The Colonel

31 May

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) this week celebrates its 50th birthday. To mark the occasion, it has released a list of the most complained about adverts in the last 50 years. It’s an interesting list, not least because it gives an insight into what most irks Middle England and prompts it – accompanied by much huffing and puffing – to pick up a pen or write an email to a body such as the ASA.

Sex, drugs and rock and roll. Not forgetting violence of course. These are the themes you would expect to send seismic rumblings under the feet of the nation, causing china to tinkle and audible gasps to be heard from church halls. So what was top of the list of most complained about adverts? Was it naked, vajazzled women watching men having sex whilst throwing cats into wheelie bins (the women not the men) all to advertise cat food? No. Think of something truly morally reprehensible. That’s right, it was the Kentucky Fried Chicken advert that DARED to show people … wait for it … singing with their mouths full.

You’ve fallen off your chair, right?

Yes, it really is a shocker. Stop the clocks, etc. According to those who complained (a record 1,671 people), the advert set a bad example to children. Hell’s bells! I can think of plenty of properly bad examples that no one gets their knickers in a twist about. Just put together a collage of celebrities’ and politicians’ photos, close your eyes and stick a pin in it. Bingo!

So this is where the nation’s moral compass settles. We’re happy to watch public humiliation on reality TV, people been pulled from car wrecks (real or and somewhere down the road from Holby City) and flipping Eastenders but not a bit of chewed up chicken in someone’s mouth.

The people who complained must be parents. (Scary how becoming a parent can suddenly make you conservative to boot). What does this say about their parenting? Well, that’s 1,671 people who should have sat down with their kids and explained that whilst the advert was very funny (they would obviously have to lie about their feelings here) it’s actually not very nice to talk with your mouthful. Basic Guide to Table Manners Talk done. Instead, I expect they taught their children that switching off the telly in a strop, thumping about angrily with steam billowing out of your ears as you compose your complaint against moral decay is a perfectly acceptable way to behave.

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