The average age of people working in advertising agencies is apparently falling so much it is highly likely that by 2025 copy will be written by sperm.
What worries me, however, is not the quality of that copy but the fact that right now the majority of agency strategists have no idea what appeals to children in spite of the fact that a lot of them are still children.
The point is that in order to understand the demands, desires and needs of children, you actually need to have one or two of them yourself.
Advertising to children successfully requires an understanding of what it is like being a parent.
Bringing up children isn’t easy. In fact, one of the most remarkable feats of human nature is being to raise a child without going insane.
It was also Levenson, incidentally, who claimed it was easy to be wise; “Just think of something really stupid to say. Then don’t.”
But, getting back to children, there have been many words of wisdom written on the subject of preparing young couples for parenthood. But, few of these are able to aptly illustrate the emotional, energy draining, impact of the arrival of a 3.4-kilogram bundle of disarming smiles and happy little gurgles all too frequently interspersed with myriad leaking orifices and extremely noisy lungs.
This also creates a dilemma for ageing parents desperately wanting their children to produce grandchildren by the bushel while at the same time being very much aware that this process is inevitably accompanied by a certain amount of pain on the part of the new mother and father. Pain that persists like a violently throbbing toothache until the babies have reached at least 25 years of age and have MBAs and well paid jobs.
Just wildly encouraging anyone to leap into parenthood is a bit like seriously suggesting that they have a leg amputated to get rid of athlete’s foot.
To find out whether you are competent to create advertising aimed at children you need to pass this parenthood test I found on the internet under the heading, “Don’t laugh – this is serious advice…”
Smear peanut butter on the lounge sofa and curtains. Place a fish stick behind the couch and leave it there for a year.
Buy a really big box of Lego. If these are not available, you may substitute drawing pins. Have a friend spread them all over the house. Put on a blindfold. Now try to walk barefoot to the bathroom or kitchen. Do not scream because this could wake a child at night.
Borrow one or two small animals – goats are best – and take them shopping with you. Always keep them in sight and pay for anything they eat or damage.
AFTERNOON NAP TEST:
Lie down on your bed after a big Sunday lunch and ask a friend sit with you and as soon as you nod off, to pour yoghurt in your ear.
THE CAR TEST:
Break a ripe watermelon into a mush and throw it all over your dashboard, gear lever, steering wheel and new leather upholstery.
Go to the fish shop and buy a large, unhappy, live octopus. Try to stuff it into a small net bag making sure that all its arms stay inside.
Take a large plastic milk jug. Fill halfway with water. Suspend from the ceiling with a stout cord. Start the jug swinging. Try to insert spoonfuls of soggy porridge into the mouth of the jug, while pretending to be an aeroplane. Now, dump the contents of the jug on to the floor.
Prepare by obtaining a small cloth bag and fill it with four to six kilograms of sand. Soak it thoroughly in water. At 8:00 PM begin to waltz and hum with the bag until 9:00 PM. Put the bag down and set your alarm for midnight. Wake up, pick up your bag, and sing every song you have ever heard. Make up about a dozen more and sing these until 4:00AM. Set alarm for 5:00 AM. Get up and make breakfast. Keep this up for 5 years. Look cheerful.
PHYSICAL TEST (Women):
Take one large beanbag chair and attach it to the front of your clothes. Leave it there for nine months. Now remove 10 of the beans.
PHYSICAL TEST (Men):
Go to the nearest chemist. Put your wallet on the counter and say, “Help yourself.”
Now go to the nearest supermarket. Arrange for your entire salary to be directly deposited to the store. Purchase a newspaper. Go home and read it quietly for the last time.
Find a couple that already have a small child. Lecture them on how they can improve their discipline, patience, tolerance, toilet training and child’s table manners. Suggest many ways they can improve. Emphasise that they should never allow their children to run wild. Enjoy this experience. It will be the last time you will have all the answers.
Now go out and advertise to children. Good luck. It will be the last time you can call yourself sane.
Follow Chris Moerdyk on Twitter @chrismoerdyk
IMAGE: Wikimedia Creative Commons
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