The Ethical Dilemma of Children in Advertising

Ramadan, a time usually synonymous with piousness and charity, has over the past few years turned into a media frenzy; with channels airing a plethora of “shows” that serve nothing better than to keep people grounded at home as opposed to outside, ensnaring them from activity, prayers, charity etc.

Given that the rate at which these shows (sitcoms, talk shows, candid camera’s, you name it) have multiplied, ad revenue generation has also increased exponentially (there is enough ad revenue during Ramadan for a certain station to only air DURING Ramadan, and still make enough profit to continue to do so the next year!) to such an extent that people have started complaining that the shows are in fact, interrupting the ads.

(The usual ad rate for an English show that runs for 40 minutes is 4 breaks, 5 mins of ads for a total of 20 mins, making the show one hour long on TV, a 20-minute sitcom has 2 breaks for ads, 5 minutes each, making it run for 30 minutes on TV)

From food to charity, education to travel, every type of industry is covered in these ads.

Take for example the following:

Yes, the ad is in Arabic, but the music says it all.

In this ad, a group of children are asking what they “long” for; the answers are as follows:

1) Really long hair

2) Lots of toys

3) Food (Koshary – Egyptian dish)

4) To have his picture taken with a famous Football Star (Abu Trekka)

5) I long to live

The last child has touched the hearts of millions (you need only check Facebook’s shared pictures of her in this advertisement to know so). She suffers from Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD – a hole in her heart). The advertisement is trying to raise money for children such as her to have their operations done for free.

Is it ethical to cast such a beautiful young girl to give such a morbid message? Does she infact suffer from VSD or is she merely the cover-child, a face for the agency responsible for running the ad? Is it alright to have a young child such as her discuss the issue of mortality, much less be aware of it?

You decide.

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