Monday, October 10, 2005

Your UNICEF Donations at Work

Remember this the next time you see a request for a UNICEF donation. This is what they are doing with your money.
The people of Belgium have been left reeling by the first adult-only episode of the Smurfs, in which the blue-skinned cartoon characters' village is annihilated by warplanes.

The short but chilling film is the work of Unicef, the United Nations Children's Fund, and is to be broadcast on national television next week as a campaign advertisement....

The short film pulls no punches. It opens with the Smurfs dancing, hand-in-hand, around a campfire and singing the Smurf song. Bluebirds flutter past and rabbits gambol around their familiar village of mushroom- shaped houses until, without warning, bombs begin to rain from the sky.

Tiny Smurfs scatter and run in vain from the whistling bombs, before being felled by blast waves and fiery explosions. The final scene shows a scorched and tattered Baby Smurf sobbing inconsolably, surrounded by prone Smurfs.

The final frame bears the message: "Don't let war affect the lives of children."
Why is this being done?
Philippe Henon, a spokesman for Unicef Belgium, said his agency had set out to shock, after concluding that traditional images of suffering in Third World war zones had lost their power to move television viewers. "It's controversial," he said. "We have never done something like this before but we've learned over the years that the reaction to the more normal type of campaign is very limited."

...The advertising agency behind the campaign, Publicis, decided the best way to convey the impact of war on children was to tap into the earliest, happiest memories of Belgian television viewers. They chose the Smurfs, who first appeared in a Belgian comic in 1958.

Julie Lamoureux, account director at Publicis for the campaign, said the agency's original plans were toned down.

"We wanted something that was real war - Smurfs losing arms, or a Smurf losing a head -but they said no."

The film has won tentative approval from the official Smurf fan club. A spokesman said: "I think it will wake up some people. It is so un-Smurf-like, it might get people to think."

Hendrik Coysman, managing director of IMPS, said: "That crying baby really goes to your bones."
Marketers and advertisers, it's all about getting attention. Nothing is sacred tht can be used to make a point. Never mind that young chidlren who came across the ad experienced "wailing terror."

Never mind that the ad doesn't reflect anything like the life of "former child soldiers in Burundi." I doubt they can make any sense of the ads at all. The child soldiers would descend on villages and hack up the residents or shoot them dead, then burn down the villages. It isn't about air power, but fire power.

These kids live short, violent lives filled with guns, death and soldierly comradeship. No girls, no weakness. Music and dancing that celebrates their lives. Sounds like some subcultures in America, doesn't it? Only where's the "rehabilitation" for them?

I guarantee you, as soon as the big networks and cable shows get wind of this, you'll see it on American television. Along with "graphic image" warnings. But they'll show it.

And here, the message will shift. It will become about America killing innocent children around the world in our global conquest of other nations.

You watch.

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