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Advertising Fails

A few weeks ago my son, five years old, was sitting at the kitchen table and he suddenly asks me if he should be scared of GMOs “going into his body.” I had to take a moment to think about where he might have even heard of the term GMO and I realized it must have been from a commercial on YouTube Kids or possibly an ad that played during one of his games. I was right, finding the commercial after a brief search.

Oh, of course, a silly commercial with a silly haggard mother who should probably be educating herself more on what that “GMO thing” is before being concerned about whether or not it is going into her or her son’s body. Gotta make sure those blueberries going up his nose have only the finest quality organic pesticides, amirite? Dads, of course, would never be caught dead worrying about what goes in their bodies, their children’s bodies, or in anyone’s noses. That’s what silly females are for.

So, I had to explain to my son (yet again, as the world is full of these kinds of examples) that not everything other people say is true and explain what GMOs are and why they are not scary. Note: it is really hard to explain to young children why people adamantly believe and talk about untrue things without breaking down and basically just saying, “People are stupid.” Not impossible, just really hard and really tempting. Thanks, Dannon, for your contribution to the dumbing down of society. A sterling example of how capitalism offers us what we want… good or bad.

Meanwhile, around the same time I was checking out the Osmo site and got treated to another terrible advertisement. Osmo is a product that works with tablets. Basically, you place your tablet in a stand with a reflector over the camera which lets the device see on the table in front of it. It offers a variety of games featuring shape puzzles, drawing, and coding which work by this input.

The game being advertised allows the player to control characters through tiles, step by step. Think of a simpler version of Scratch. You take for example, a tile that indicates walking and turn the arrow to the correct direction and add a number of steps if necessary. You link other movements together and then press the play button on the play tile to start the code.

In this commercial, I see two kids close to the same age. The boy is writing code, and the girl (presumably his sister), comes in and sets up Osmo and starts playing. The boy is curious, she says she is coding. They show each other what they are doing. Hers looks fun and exciting, the boy makes a primitive sunrise after doing some boring looking coding. They both laugh and the boy stops what he is doing and sits and plays Osmo with his sister.

What is a parent to think of this? So, the girl is not advanced enough to write code like her brother so she is smugly playing a game that teaches the basics of code. The boy learns that all his hard work produces a relatively boring result and he puts aside his hard, boring work to just play a video game with a coding-logic controller. Awesome.

Now, I’m not saying it isn’t a fun and educational product for kids to play with. And I love the flavor of Dannon yogurt. I just wish marketers would think a little bit more.

Of course, it does seem hard to complain when a friend of mine’s young kids, who had recently lost their father, had to suffer through the infamous “Nationwide Your Kid Just Died” commercial.

Fortunately, with the exception of YouTube CommericalsKids we are mostly sheltered from the torrent. What I want to know is, what commercials bother you other parents out there?

J.G. Hovey

Just another person out there in the world. Follow the author's other endeavors at: A Parent With Glass, and ALTsapiens, and G+.

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