Maybe I’m being too sensitive, but has anyone else been offended by the K-Mart back to school commercials?
If you haven’t seen them, there are two in particular that concern me … the Yo Mama school layaway clip and the My Limo ad. While I appreciate the fact K-Mart — like all retailers — have to appeal to the kids, I think they crossed the line by using the kids in the commercials.
The first starts with a gang-like confrontation, using the derogatory phrase, “Yo Mama” as its consistent theme. And with each put down — how I view the term Yo Mama — there is a corresponding “Ooh” from the assembled youth, all in the 10-13 age bracket. The problem is the kids look like hoodlums, sound like hoodlums and if the script wasn’t for selling, could be hoodlums. I was actually waiting for a knife or gun to appear when one of the kids missed their line. Is that the message we should be giving that age bracket? Gangs are cool?
I had less of a problem with the My Limo commercial which used rap to get the sales message across, but it still didn’t sit well with me. From my antiquated background, I just had a problem even understanding half of what the kids were saying … especially during their bridging chorus. The kids are proudly billed as Da Rich Kidzz, a group of kid rappers from Minneapolis ranging in age from 10-13 years old. Using urban kids to sell to urban kids — and suburban urban wannabes — may be acceptable, but I found it disturbing. And to top it off, there was a token white girl in the clip who, quite frankly, didn’t do too much. In the past, wasn’t that one of the complaints in reverse?
K-Mart isn’t alone in exploiting kids. I heard another on the radio. I don’t even know who the pitch was for, but what caught me was an obvious young teenage girl saying “OMG!” (Oh my God) then talking about, I believe, her shoes. “My friends are going to so jelly!” (jealous). Of course, Mom responds she doesn’t care about peanut butter or jelly, just pleased she saved money.
What bothered(s) me is the use of contemporary catchphrases — aka abbreviations, slang and shortcuts — in back to school commercials. No one knows how to spell anymore. No one knows syntax or sentence structure, when to use certain words or, more important, how to use proper words.
And in this day of bullying sensitivity, what was Hyundai thinking with its latest Santa Fe commercial? Somebody at the ad agency didn’t get the memo.
K-Mart may be targeting its audience with those ads. They certainly didn’t resonate with me. But I think it is the responsibility of advertisers to break stereotypes … not add to them. Then again, what am I thinking?
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: It is easier to build boys than to repair men.