Company needs to make water bombing a little more lighthearted
One of the longstanding rituals of summer – a surprise water balloon attack on an unsuspecting adult – is now suspect, at least as far as the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) is concerned. CARU has found that such action in television advertising violates Core Principle 7 of its Self-Regulatory Program for Children’s Advertising, which states, “Advertisers are encouraged to capitalize on the potential of advertising to serve an educational role and influence positive personal qualities and behaviors in children, e.g., being honest and respectful of others, taking safety precautions, engaging in physical activity.”
Let’s back up a moment and consider the product that’s being advertised. ZURU Toys Bunch-O-Balloons brings mass production to the water balloon market.
The user attaches a water hose to a single connector, which funnels water through a bunch of tubes with individual balloons fastened to their ends. Dozens of water balloons can be filled in moments, making a massive water balloon arms race possible. CARU’s main concern with the commercial advertising ZURU’s water balloons is that the children’s behavior depicted in the advertisement appears to be disrespectful, based on the reaction of the adults in the ad. When hit with the water balloons, the adults appear shocked, annoyed and surprised rather than amused. “Not one of the adults smiled, laughed, or in any way had a positive response,” CARU’s report reads. “The adults were clearly not part of a party or an organized balloon fight. In fact, the commercial showed the group of children laughing at the adult’s discomfort.”
CARU came across ZURU’s commercial through its routine monitoring program and found that ZURU’s commercial is not in line with its foundational principles, which provide that companies should market advertisements that influence positive behaviors and qualities in children and that have an educational role.
The ZURU commercial allegedly shows adults being pelted with water balloons by “a group of children.” However, it’s not the water balloon fight itself that CARU takes issue with, but rather the attitude of the splash victims that makes all the difference.
In advertising their products, companies should be mindful to create a more “inclusive tone,” for example by “providing balloons to everyone, showing light interactions between players, and avoiding an us/them feel.”
ZURU, for its part, informed CARU that the advertisement had already been taken off the air and was not scheduled to be re-aired.