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“Children should be seen and not heard,” my old Mum and Dad used to say, but that was way back when a good old slap round the ear-hole meant you were totally out of step.

Those days are gone but I’m not sure the sentiment does not possess an element of wisdom when it comes to howchildren are being used by the advertising industry.

We’re a funny lot in the magical world of advertising men – oops! And ad women. We do things for effect – symbolism is no stranger in the creative studios of advertising – we crave differentials in an effort to bail our clients out of the promotional clutter.

Recently advertising people worldwide, have taken to using our children to deliver adult messages and as the practice grows there are questions being asked, “Is it ethical, is it right, is it taking advantage of our kids, is it immoral?” As I have no real answer to those imponderables, I’ll be more pragmatic and ask the uncomfortable question. Does it work?

It appears to depend on the product or service. My personal straw poll tells me adult consumers don’t mind so much if kids tell them what porridge to buy, the consumer pretty much knows that children are expert in toys, ice cream, candy bars, cereal, etc., and as a consequence they listen and chuckle, but the whole thing becomes much more subjective when it comes to, “We need a bigger boat.”

Kiddy-winkies telling us about nappies and selling us toilet paper is fine but using them to flog a big ticket item seems to be a ‘No-no’. Cute? Maybe. Giggle worthy? Yes, but letting the kids loose when it comes to lecturing us on cars, houses and financials and you might as well whistle dixie.

And when it comes to selling insurance it goes one step further than simple annoyance, children really do not cut the mustard when it comes to advertising financials, in fact it may actually be counter productive. Remember, the scruffy kid who’s advertising your funeral insurance may be perceived as the little bugger who doesn’t want to pay for your funeral from the inheritance you leave him when you say your final goodbye – just saying!

And just in case you think perceptive thinking has gone too far, take a look at the latest advertisements from one of our soon to be ex motor manufacturers who’ve decided to take their bat and ball and go home. Now they’ve made thousands of our adult workers redundant, they’ve decided to use our kids to sell their goodbye products – now that’s down right cheeky.

Perception is everything and like it or not, if it’s your perception it’s reality.