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This is meant to SELL me something? - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
This is meant to SELL me something?
Okay, so our local amusement park, Cliff's, has an ad campaign for the summer that annoys the hell out of me. I've come across two, one radio, one TV, in the campaign.

The radio ad starts out talking about how "There are _____ videos on YouTube showing how you can make an explosion by mixing a kind of mint with cola. We don't know who discovered this, but we can be sure he was under 18." (Sounds of amusement park.) "Remember, if you don't amuse them, they will amuse themselves."

The TV ad pans over several toys and decorations that have been turned into a circus, while circus music plays behind them. At the end, the family cat is in an (open) cage labeled "Lion." Voice: "If you don't amuse them, they'll amuse themselves."

So, the message is, "If you don't provide them with overpriced pre-packaged entertainment, they may use their imaginations and create worlds and perform experiments"? Seriously, I was expecting it to be a PSA for why you should limit TV and give your kids the tools to use their brains. But apparently, it was trying to sell me on making sure that never happens.

17 comments or Leave a comment
From: arclevel Date: June 30th, 2009 02:29 am (UTC) (Link)
That's ... yeah. You know, the first one I could definitely see, because if they were talking about kids seeing if you'd explode if you ate Mentos and Coke, then I could see it freaking out danger-obsessed parents. But, "Oh, no! Your kid might create a pretend circus"!?! No, I can see parents who wouldn't be especially *supportive* of that, but not any who'd actually *oppose* it. Especially when it's much cheaper than an amusement park.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 30th, 2009 02:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, presumably some of the shanghaied knick-knacks belong to Mom, but you know... as my mother says, "Don't you pretty much expect to lose knick-knacks when you have kids?" (I once took apart her prize music box to see how it worked. She still looks pained about it, but she was glad I had a healthy interest in things like that, too--not that I didn't get solidly grounded, because I should have known better. I also took apart clocks and watches, but I could usually get them back together. Big deal.)

Edited at 2009-06-30 02:40 am (UTC)
kt_tonguetied From: kt_tonguetied Date: June 30th, 2009 02:40 am (UTC) (Link)
yeah, I would love it if, when I have kids, they're creative enough to make their own circus, if only so I can save $100 and NOT go to an amusement park XD
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 30th, 2009 02:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Exactly! My cousins and I used to put on circuses in Grandma's back yard. It's fun. And inexpensive. Clown costumes are old dresses turned inside out, and makeup is a little baby powder and lipstick. Go fake circuses! Much better than spending money on an amusement park.
gypsy_thief From: gypsy_thief Date: June 30th, 2009 03:02 am (UTC) (Link)
It sounds like whoever devised this ad campaign is a neat freak. Other than being messy activities, I can't think of anything negative about playing circus or spewing coke.
satakieli From: satakieli Date: June 30th, 2009 03:08 am (UTC) (Link)
Hah. I keep forgetting that you live in my hometown now. I was wondering how many places have amusement parks called "Cliff's".

Suddenly I'm glad that I never had a tv when I lived there... though I love PSA idea. Sounds like it's misappropriation and remix time!
lady_moriel From: lady_moriel Date: June 30th, 2009 03:35 am (UTC) (Link)
I can see where they're trying to go with it--you know, along the same lines as "idle hands are the devil's playground"--but they definitely did not get there. I mean, with the first one...you know, explosions, sure. An explosion is an easy thing to convey on a radio ad. "Find your kids something to do, or they'll get bored and do the kinds of things Calvin & Hobbes do when they're bored!" But even with that being the apparent intent, there are a whole lot of better ways to get that across.
From: severely_lupine Date: June 30th, 2009 03:40 am (UTC) (Link)
LOL! Yes, indeed. What would the world come to if kids started using their imaginations? Next thing you know, they might start reading books or even making up stories of their own!
toastedcheese From: toastedcheese Date: June 30th, 2009 03:48 am (UTC) (Link)
As a society we look down on people who have "too much time on their hands" and fill it up with unusual or pointless hobbies, but smile on people who avoid having spare time by participating in socially-acceptable, if equally unproductive activities. Go figure!
sonetka From: sonetka Date: June 30th, 2009 05:06 am (UTC) (Link)
You know, you could probably find about 500 truly terrifying things on Youtube if you just took the time to check. The Mentos and cola films aren't among them - they're hilarious. I could easily see my husband helping our kids make one in about ten years' time. Ditto with the homemade circus. The only thing I can see parents not liking about either scenario is the mess it makes, but I mean, come on. If the ad-makers can't think of any scarier/more destructive things kids could do, they've led a very sheltered existence. (That or they were afraid that showing something like kids playing with matches would make parents think "How dare you accuse my child of delinquency!")

Here in Utah we have some anti-drunk-driving ads which, while not as strangely conceived, are really poorly worded; they show a sad-looking woman with a big caption: "Hit a pedestrian, change your lives." Is it just me or does it sound like they might be recommending hitting a pedestrian? "Change your lives - ask me how!"
arcaneblades From: arcaneblades Date: June 30th, 2009 05:48 am (UTC) (Link)
You *are* local to me. And yeah, the circus commercial needs to stop. I've never seen the amusement park this desperate, but perhaps they've gotten less attendance because of the economy.

In any case, I see no reason for the sorts of commercial they're running these days. Because really, what child here isn't aware of the amusement park and able to ask to go without ads? All the schools take them by like 5th grade anyways.
amamama From: amamama Date: June 30th, 2009 10:27 am (UTC) (Link)
"Oh noes, my kids are exploring the world!" ?!?!?!?!? Seriosly. That said, never heard about the mentos/cola experiment. That's a good reason to buy a bottle of the icky brown stuff. And a roll of mentos. Sounds like perfect outdoor fun. :-)
fiatincantatum From: fiatincantatum Date: June 30th, 2009 02:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
http://eepybird.com/ is a great site for mentos/coke madness :D
thefish30 From: thefish30 Date: June 30th, 2009 12:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
These advertisers know exactly who they're marketing to. These ads aimed at the parents whose summer small talk is "Omigod, I can't wait till school starts up again. These kids are driving me crazy!" Their name is legion. They also are willing to pay hundreds for summer camp because god forbid the kids sing or have snacks or do arts and crafts at home and run around the neighborhood. These are stay at home moms with actual backyards. I always wonder to myself "So why did you have kids again?"

/end rant
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 30th, 2009 04:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Argh, you're probably right. I always forget about them because... like you said, why did they have kids again?
matril From: matril Date: June 30th, 2009 02:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's...so sad. I can kind of see what they're trying to say, but it comes across completely wrong. Creative, independent play? Oh, no! Haul them to the amusement park, quick! :P
littletwitchy From: littletwitchy Date: June 30th, 2009 06:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
OHNOES NOT IMAGINATION!!! Then you might have to clean up messes and I don't know, interact with your kids? For shame!
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