I watched this commercial before reading what Mr. Wheaton had to say about it. I’m not a smoker so this does not affect me directly, but I still think it’s a great ad. While I cannot speak for smokers, I do feel that it would have some sort of an impact on their thinking when purchasing another pack; at least for smoking mothers. How could you not feel some form of sadness when this little boy loses his mom and starts to cry?
The realness of this ad is “…leading some to call in complaints to the Department of Health” (Ken Wheaton). People are complaining because they believe that this little boy was not acting, he was put in a situation where he did react by crying. Now, this boy, who appears to be between 3-5 years of age, may be a “beyond his years” actor. However, in my own opinion, I have to believe this is not the case, and the boy was forced into a crying moment. I doubt that it was the exact situation depicted in the ad, losing his mother, but probably some other tragic situation. Donny Deutsch discusses this possibility with Matt Lauer, just scroll down.
Is this okay to do?
I am 100% for it. If in fact this kid was sadly forced to cry, I doubt it was anywhere near a life-altering experience. And in return, he’s helping everyone by getting people to quit smoking. I lost my mother once when I was probably around that age, maybe older. We were waiting in a checkout line at Stop & Shop, I turned and she was gone. Yea, I started to cry, who wouldn’t. She had only moved a couple checkout counters over, I just wasn’t paying attention. She had her eyes on me though, so I was still safe. My point is that for those few moments I was lost, and alone, and I cried. Does that moment affect me at all now? Nope. Granted, this kid was at a train station or whatever it was, so the disarray and fear he would have experienced was far greater, but the creeps that can be found at Stop & Shop can be just as horrifying.
Just because this ad targets smoking mothers, doesn’t mean they are the only ones who take something from this. The general message is about how ones smoking can result in tragic consequences for your loved ones. If a smoker unfortunately reaches the end of their line, they aren’t the only ones that are suffering the consequences. Loved ones, especially their children, have to deal with the consequences as well, and that can sure make current smokers have a guilty conscience about what they are potentially doing. For anyone who smokes and has children, watch that ad, and try to not feel guilty or heavy-hearted.