Posted by: sulya | 11 May 2010

Ah, the Power of Advertising…

So, my son has been watching some of the retro cartoon station.  I get the impression he’s seen a fair bit of it at his dad’s and know he’s seen a tiny bit at my house.  I cannot stand the commercials.  All these ads geared toward seducing small children into the brand name purchase of largely plastic consumer goods that they will break within seconds or grow bored of within minutes…

Annoying to say the least – perhaps even sinister at worst…

Yeah, yeah, I know – I’m a bit of a drama queen and there are even ads on PBS these days in the form of “sponsored by” segments as long as 15 or 20 seconds for McDonalds and Boeing and who the hell knows what all else…  No channel is “safe” from the mighty hand of corporate childhood brainwashing and resistance is likely futile.  I know that too.  But, whatever.  I try to limit his exposure if and when I can to these things because when he wants things I want him to know that his desire comes from HIM, and not from someone else… If that makes sense… It’s an important thing to know, truly know that we want what we want because it speaks to something inside of us and resonates.  If we have just been worn down into wanting something it’s not the same and it never should be but that is a different idea for a different time…

Anyway — this week’s surprise was that it isn’t just the kid ads that stick.

A rough transcription of a conversation I had the other day with my four and a half year-old:

Kid:  Mommy, sometimes you get that.

Me: What baby?

Kid:  Sometimes you get that.

[I pay more close attention to the tube that was just moments ago blaring the early years of Spiderman music…]

Me:  Not like that, love.  I get a bit of acne now and then but not like that.

Kid:  Well, you get that sometimes so you should use ProActive.

He said it so matter-of-fact, so clear and cleanly, as though there was no room for doubt or debate.  His confidence in the truth of my recurring and terrible skin coupled with his absolute certainty in the power of ProActive to rid me of said trouble – because the ad clearly shows its miraculous power – was positively chilling.

It also made me laugh my ass off.

I couldn’t stop myself from muttering things about how even in the “after” shots they were wearing a tonne and a half of make-up because there was something doubly irritating or worrying about how he was being seduced by good lighting and serious amounts of foundation on top of everything else…

Ultimately, though, I just need to decide which is worth more to me, the laughter at his 4.5 year-old corporate certainty in the seriousness of my acne and power of ProActive or the fear that he will well and truly learn to never think for himself again between bouts of Super-Friends and The Smurfs…

For now, he has not watched that station at my house in over a week.  We will see what tomorrow will bring…


Image Above Taken by Bronna,  Maternal Unit of The Octopus in Residence, and used here entirely without her permission though there is confidence that permission can be procured if necessary.



  1. Ha!!

    If he’s still pro ProActive by the time he actually needs it for himself, make him pay for it! When he sees how much it costs he’ll go for the no-name zit remedy the rest of us use (yes that means me, and yes I did sneak in a Degrassi reference).

    • Ah, Degrassi… Fine fare, fine fare… My worst acne bouts came hand in hand with five years worth of braces and now arise cyclically and most acutely at the rare times when I am trying to impress crowds of adults with my maturity and poise… Still, I’m with you. I go low rent or not at all when it comes to those sorts of potions so my son can quit his shilling and save his sweet sweet breath (smile).

  2. That is HILARIOUS! I vote for laughing your ass off and knowing your little guy will definitely learn to think for himself (and wisely turning the channel to something else).

    And I must add that another reason I love Quebec is that television advertising aimed at kids under 12 is illegal under the Consumer Protection Act. it really changes the television landscape (and, yes, the law has changed since our childhood).

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