The Road to Ruin Has Great Coverage

By Michael

There’s this ad on television that’s driving me crazy right now. A mom and her daughter are at the mall. Okay, I only have one X, so I never quite get it when a mother and daughter in some ad are at the mall, smiling and giggling like they’re just about to collect their lottery winnings or jet away with Oprah. But that’s not the part that’s driving me crazy.

Mother and child are at the top of the escalator. I think the kid is 10 or 11, maybe 12. She must be, because she already has a cell phone and who would give their kids a phone before the ripe, old, incredibly mature age of 10? So the kid is old enough to have a cell phone and she is about to start down the escalator….

All by herself.

Just like a big girl.

Without training wheels.

At the mall.

And the announcer knows mom is worried because…well…you know what happens in shopping malls. You might as well leave her tied to the railroad tracks. (Yes, I know bad things can happen at a shopping mall, but the same holds true for kitchens, schools and church. Did I mention it appears to be an indoor mall??)

Okay, so back to our story. The announcer wants mom—not just the mom in the ad but all of you moms—to know that her child—your child—could be kidnapped and killed—or worse—at the bottom of the escalator. And probably will be. If she isn’t packing….not a gun….but the right cell phone.

Because, in the murderous, heartless, Godless, snakepit of evil that is a shopping mall, you’re a goner if you don’t have the best 3G network.

The announcer doesn’t come right out and say it, but you know what he’s thinking. Why did you even bother feeding and clothing this kid and, maybe, sending her to school to learn to read and write and do all that mathicatin’ if you were just going to bring her to the mall and let her die?

And I’m thinking, if somebody tries to grab this kid and her first thought is to make a phone call instead of screaming for help from the 50,000 people in earshot, somebody’s momma done taught her wrong.

But the other thing I’m thinking is that the ad agency that produced this spot did lots of research. They know what mom and dad know: No kid of 10 or 12 needs a cell phone, but they all want one. And they all want one because everyone has one.

NB: Okay, folks, I’ve fallen for this spiel too many times, but it occurs to me that it’s impossible. If all the kids have one already, all the kids can’t want one. If all the kids want one, it can’t possibly be because all the kids have one. See? After your kids finally grow up and move out, your analytical thinking skills return. It’s too late for me, but maybe you can save yourselves.

So the people at the ad agency do their research and they figure out that they can sell us tons of cell phones if they only play on our fears. Cell phones aren’t for keeping up with cool kids and the Kardashians. Cell phones, like seat belts, save lives. Yep, that’s right. Uh-huh.

Marketers know that parents are absolute suckers for safety, especially when it comes to our kids. Appeals to safety trump common sense and financial capacity. None of us wants to be the one whose child suffered because we wouldn’t fork over $50 for extra security.

We don’t always get what we pay for, of course. It turns out that cell phones are self-contained sexting modules, which can lead to all kinds of complications in life. Maybe mom doesn’t want her daughter to have a great 3G network after all.

Michael Rosenbaum is 5 Minutes for Parenting’s first dadblogger. He is a business consultant, playwright and author of Your Name Here: Guide to Life.

Michael blogs on life issues at Your Name Here Guide to Life and manages the Adult Conversation discussion group on Linked-In.

6 Responses to The Road to Ruin Has Great Coverage
  1. […] The Road to Ruin Has Great Coverage At the dablog… […]

  2. Miche
    April 6, 2010 | 10:53 am

    I loved this 🙂

  3. Hannah
    April 6, 2010 | 11:21 pm

    Ha! Don’t even get me started about how the powers that be behind TV commercials love to play on our worst fears, insecurities and ideals revolving around the elusive Perfect Parent. (That Neo-to-Go scene at the park springs to mind.) I can’t figure out whether they’re all made by single folks, or actual parents who have just betrayed their own kind.

  4. Kelly
    April 8, 2010 | 6:15 pm

    I’ve seen that commercial! I rolled my eyes at its cheesiness. I never caught the more subtle messages about buying my kids’ a cell phone to keep them safe from the mall monsters.

    One of my friends this week said she’s not getting her daughter a cell phone until she’s 18. That’s the rule, and she’s sticking to it. I like the idea.

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