Kids have been starring in TV commercials for years. Sometimes the ads work, more often they are annoying or so cloying you feel like wretching.
A current commercial for a local car dealer features kids. They are there just to be cute, and at the end a blond, pigtailed girl who appears to be about 4 years old sings the dealership’s advertising ditty without being able to clearly articulate all of the consonants and vowels. Adorable, right? Sure it is . . . the first time you see it. But when you see that commercial during every time out on an NCAA tournament game, you quickly feel like rinsing your eyes with vinegar to avoid the sweetness overdose.
Contrast that with the classic “Mikey” commercial for Life cereal. Two brothers push a bowl of “healthy”cereal back and forth, neither willing to try it because we all know that healthy cereal tastes like twigs and cardboard. So they do what any real brothers would do — they force their grumpy younger brother (“Let’s get Mikey! He hates everything!”) to give it a shot. When little bro tries it and likes it, they know that Life must be good. The commercial works because it’s not just going for “aw shucks” cuteness but instead tries to make its point through kids acting like real kids.
That’s why I like the current AT&T commercials, where the guy in the suit asks kids questions and we get to see kids acting goofy and giggly, just like real kids do. My favorite the “pickle roll” commercial shown below. Any parent has seen actual kids dissolve into helpless laughter at some silly comment — and the commercial adds the tag line to bring it home. Faster is better! We want more! It’s not complicated!
When it comes to kids and commercials, a little cuteness goes an awful long way. Better to let kids be kids.