Three common myths about using children in commercials by advertisers and agencies:
- Kids on radio and t.v. are cute!
- Kids stand out!
- People pay more attention to kids
The biggest myth used by business owners regarding their own children:
“My child is a star”
If that’s the case, then why haven’t they won “America’s Got Talent”?
Let me preface this by saying that there are notable exceptions to using children in commercials, which I’ll highlight further in this posting. However,
Children in commercials should be treated like anchovies:
- They should be used sparingly
- There needs to be a definitive reason for the kid(s) to be in the commercial
- Not everyone enjoys kids in advertising
A REAL LIFE EXAMPLE OF A BAD “KID” COMMERCIAL
Please listen to this audio:
Did you make it all the way through? Just because you think your kid can sing is no reason to put them in your commercial.
INSTEAD: Have the daughter tell a story about how her dad always comes home dirty from doing the job you, the homeowner, won’t or can’t do.
A REAL LIFE EXAMPLE OF A GREAT “KID” COMMERCIAL
Granted, the only real benefit to this commercial is that you can start the Passat remotely. But it’s the kids genuine emotion that makes this ad a home run.
Side note: the “e-trade baby” spots are great at role-reversal and implying that it’s so simple that a baby can use the service. However, for the first few years the general public had a difficult time associating the talking baby with E-trade. I give them a B-.
WHEN SHOULD KIDS BE USED IN COMMERCIALS?
Of course, there are times when children are absolutely necessary:
- When promoting a product to/for a child
- When trying to pull an “emotional trigger” (curing childhood cancer, etc)
- As a metaphor (“get silky-smooth baby-skin again”, etc)
- A device for dichotomy (think “E-trade” baby)
Remember the “Two B’s” of any good, effective advertisement:
That said, most children cannot act on camera, or voice-act convincingly.
Unless you’re comfortable wasting money, a commercial should not be your child’s audition.
Identify the one critical message you want the audience to remember. Using the guidelines above, would a good child actor be the best person to deliver that message?