Brent Bozell

Let's fact it, this is a thoroughly bizarre way to sell candy to children, if the message is focused on taste, quality, nutrition -- anything like that. But it's not. Commercials are designed to be cool, to make young people point and laugh. So the dark-suited executives quietly, and surely uncomfortably, acquiesce. They will agree to try anything to scandalize people into paying attention to their sales pitch.

The walrus in the commercial is not a real animal, but something animatronic. After all, Wrigley doesn't want to upset the people who protest animal cruelty during filming. On the other hand, upsetting people who protest indecencies to children doesn't bother them at all.

In the world of print ads, the candy makers at Mentos are using nudity to sell their new "Pure Fresh" gum -- or to be precise, they're covering nudity with their product. In an ad in Maxim, they cover the rear end of a young woman pulling down her panties with a package of gum with the slogan "Look, we have gum!"

There are also ads like this in more mainstream magazines with large teenaged readerships. In an ad slated to run in the celebrity glossies People, In Touch and Us Weekly, the gum covers up an accidentally exposed woman's breast at "(Wardrobe) Malfunction Junction! She took two steps into the limelight and her dress gave way." In an ad planned for Sports Illustrated and ESPN The Magazine, the Mentos gum package covers the crotch of a streaker at a soccer game.

The ad makers at The Martin Agency of Richmond explained to Ad Week that the ads "spotlight the juxtaposition between the innocent quirkiness of Mentos and the not-so-innocent content of the ads." Translation: Sex sells.

But do they have to use sex to sell products designed for children? Where do they stop? Using sex to sell Cap'n Crunch cereal or Oscar Mayer Lunchables? Scripting make-out sessions with Ronald McDonald or Tony the Tiger? How about Butt-Naked Barbie having sex with Ken? The world of commercials is devolving just like the rest of television. Shock wins, and good taste is routed.

Brent Bozell

Founder and President of the Media Research Center, Brent Bozell runs the largest media watchdog organization in America.
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