The SOS Ad Children’s Villages Ecuador’s “Not Every Childhood is Sweet” is meant to disturb the viewer and jar them out of complacency on the issue of forced child labor. As we speak, thousands of children are currently working and selling goods in Ecuador’s many cities. Unfortunately, these children are frequently compelled to sell lollipops, bubblegum, and candies, products that were initially designed for their enjoyment. But with the coercion of child labor has now become part of their nightmares.
This inspired the ad agency to create a figure from a nightmare as a piece of bubblegum with sharp teeth. There is a message attached to the bubblegum that says, “Not every childhood is sweet”. Below the imagery is another message that reads, “Thousands of kids live a nightmare selling the bubblegum they should be enjoying. Don’t finance child labor.”
The ad clearly communicates the message that child labor is a nightmare from which many children will never escape; therefore, they created a character from a nightmare. Monsters that shouldn’t exist but were brought to life by the horrors of child labor.
SOS Ad Strategy
The strategy of the ad is to contrast the joy and innocence of a piece of bubblegum with the horror imagery meant to represent child labor. The stark contrast between the two concepts is intended to jar the viewer and reveal the horrors of what takes place in these areas of Ecuador.
SOS Ad Target Audience
The target audience is broad, as almost any civilized adult would recoil at the suggestion of forced child labor in the world. However, because of the phrase “Thousands of kids live a nightmare selling the bubblegum they should be enjoying. Don’t finance child labor,” it seems that the message is directed at the local citizens to implore them not to support this industry by buying these candies.
What Makes the Ad Effective?
While I am not sure that simply shocking the viewer with horror imagery will have much of an impact on them, there are several other features present in this ad that lend it some weight. First and foremost is the fact that a piece of bubblegum is made to look like a monster. So often, organizations such as these use symbolic imagery to depict the realities of children suffering worldwide.
Another feature that helps this ad is the message attached to the monster. The moment one sees the disturbing figure with its sharp teeth, they recoil with a visceral sense of shock. But it isn’t just the imagery that shocks the reader; it is the message attached. Children are currently working grueling jobs. Selling candy in Ecuador means they are probably earning next to nothing for their efforts.
The ad is highly effective in terms of the techniques that were used to create it. The fact that they chose a piece of bubblegum that children worldwide enjoy (especially small ones who are often the victims of forced child labor) makes this message much more poignant and meaningful.
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