Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Rebel without an advertising campaign

There has been an advertising campaign over here recently, in the style of the classic American road movie - girl meets boy, girl gets pregnant, mother doesn't approve of boy, boy and girl shout "screw you!" and run away together. Oh, and in this particular case, the boy is made of cactus.

I was generally uninterested in this, as I am with most advertising campaigns. Until the advert was pulled, after a series of complaints about its content and message:

BBC News: Cactus kid advert ordered off air.

Apparently this is because it depicts teenage pregnancy in a less than demonising light, and its hookline, "for people who don't like water", discourages a healthy diet. Let's take the latter first, because it's easier to deal with.

Discourages a healthy diet. Unlike, for instance, adverts for McDonalds, Galaxy chocolate, Haribo, and every other advert on television? I'm sorry, but that just doesn't wash. At all. If anyone can see sense in that proposition, please tell me, because it entirely escapes my grasp.

The pregnancy is the more interesting part; as far as I can see, it's there as part of the spoof/homage referring to the classic genre of American road movies. I don't think there is any danger that anyone watching it would take away from the advert the message that "teenage pregnancy is desirable" - it doesn't play a significant enough role in the advert for it to be anything more than a plot device.

Did it "condone teenage pregnancy and underage sex"? Not that I could see. The girl didn't seem to be underage, though she may have been in her late teens. Underage sex (in this country at least) would imply under 16 - and she certainly didn't look that young. As for the pregnancy, all it did was acknowledge that these things happen; if that's enough for some people to claim that it condones the action, then they should be complaining until they're blue in the face about soap operas.

Poor Cactus Kid. They'll never stop persecuting rebels.

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