Ugly Reality of Child Abuse Rears Its Head in PSA


It seems public service advertising is the only kind which contains any sort of meaningful drama or that's allowed to depict reality without being glossed over by meaningless creative pontification. All other forms of advertising pale in comparison. Mostly because PSAs depict real life. And real life is a far cry from the kind of fairy tale life painted inside the cozy confines of an ad campaign.

British children's charity Barnardo's is out with a powerful commercial in which a girl is repeatedly subjected to the after effects of child abuse. As the commercial progresses, the girl's troubled life is repeated with increasing intensity until it culminates with the rapid fire reality of child abuse, a cycle that, if unchecked, is doomed to repeat tself over and over again until dramatic steps are taken to prevent it.

Bartle Bogle Hegary created the work which, predictably, has caused many complaints to the United Kingdom's Advertising Standards Authority, an oversight body which has the authority to banned advertising which is deemed offensive or unsuitable.

Offense to this ad is understandable given the graphic nature of the messaging but to ban it would be to fall prey to an increasingly unfortunate habit of civilized society; to eradicate all reference and reminder to people whose lives don't fit neatly into pre-defined categories of accepted happiness. After all, ignorance is bliss, right? No one wants messy reminders there are people in the world whose lives aren't as perfect as their own.

This commercial forces as issue which must be faced. And it does so powerfully and, more importantly, honestly. There is no pithy "creative strategy" to gloss over the issue of child abuse. No way to offer it up with a tidy bow on top like some McDonald;s commercial.

Certain aspects of life are ugly. The only way to make people aware of the ugliness id to show it. BBH's work accomplishes this. To ban this commercial or to dub it unsuitable is, in a way, to become an accomplice to child abuse.

by Steve Hall    Dec- 2-08   Click to Comment   
Topic: Best, Cause, Commercials, Creative Commentary, Opinion   

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The ASA have said that just because it has a large number of complaints (over 400) this does not automatically mean it will be banned. It is only shown after the UK 9 o clock water shed anyway so I think the case for a ban is as weak as the creative is strong.

We are becoming a nation of complainers in the UK

Posted by: David Pearce on December 4, 2008 9:28 AM