As we move into summer and our weekend lives transition to more outdoor activities, so do commercials make the shift to more outside scenes. Ads directed at kids are no exception. Two recent decisions from CARU remind marketers of the ground rules for kid's ads showing active outdoor play. While the CPSC and some plain old good sense have gotten rid of such childhood classics of yore like lawn darts and plastic bottomed swimming pools, the CARU guidelines still admonish to show kids engaged in properly supervised play with appropriate safety equipment.
First, parents or other adult figures should be shown supervising kids when the product or the activities could involve a potential safety risk. Dynacraft, maker of the Urban Shredder, an electric powered three wheel skateboard that can reach speeds of up to ten miles an hour and creates "sparking action" when the rider turns and puts pressure on a metal part, warned in its product packaging the children must be supervised by an adult to be safe. The ads depicts boys riding bikes who are magically transported to a large sports arena with parked race cars. The boys are shown riding the Urban Shredder as spark fly from under the "part skateboard, part motorcycle". Four helmeted figures in racing gear are shown in the background. Dynacraft argued that these figures are adults and show adequate supervision. CARU said "the adult presence must be meaningful and must suggest that adult supervision is required" and while there were larger people shown, it was ambiguous whether they were engaged in watching over the child.
Second, proper safety equipment must be shown. In a Razor ProXX Scooter ad, a professional rider was shown mid-air above metal railings while descending a set of steps but wearing no helmet or protective pads. CARU was concerned without proper gear, even if kids appreciated that this was a pro, that kids tend to model older people and are prone to imitation. And kids might even think it was "cool" to not wear a helmet. Razor dealt with the problem by agreeing not to show the ad during children’s programming.
So when showing your summer fun ads directed at kids, make sure there is adequate safety and supervision.