Monday, April 6, 2009

Stop smoking and you'll make this child stop crying

Anti-smoking ads are typically supposed to unnerve you and tug at your heartstrings. After all, without some kind of powerful effect, are you really going to consider giving up an addictive habit you've been harboring for months/years? The latest anti-smoking ad put out by the NYC Department of Health has been generating a lot of heat since it first started airing 2 weeks ago. It's of a little boy who gets separated from his mom and starts crying. The tagline is, "If this is how your child feels after losing you for a minute, just imagine if they lost you for life.” The reason for the controversy lies in its exploitativeness, (I know that's not a word...)- the boy is young, and I don't care how precocious of a child actor you are, it doesn't look like there's acting involved here. The boy is genuinely scared that he just lost his mommy. Is it worth causing trauma to this little child, albeit only for a few seconds as the makers of the ad contend, to induce real emotion and make the emotional punch of the ad that much greater?

It seems to be working, in just the amount of feedback it's generated so far. I don't pay much attention to commercials, but even this one caught my eye when I first saw it. And unlike other anti-smoking ads (like the guy with the hole in his throat or the fingerless lady), you have no idea where this one is going til the end. Does this ad offend you as it has for a lot of people? See for yourself: