I took my son to a very cool installation at a local museum. It was basically a giant ball pit. It was about hip-deep on an adult, and there were “islands” scattered about so you could hoist yourself out and jump back into the balls. It was super fun.
What I didn’t know – until I had banged my shins multiple times – was that all the edges of the islands were uncushioned plywood, and the flailing necessary to heave a 41-year-old woman out of three feet of balls results in a lot of bruising.
As I spent the evening applying arnica gel to my battered legs, I wondered why there hadn’t been a warning about the plywood-based injury risk. Sure, the staff there warned us how deep the balls were and that it was hard to maneuver in the deep areas. And we were reassured that the balls were made of anti-microbial, non-pink-eye-spreading material. BUT WHAT ABOUT MY BRUISES, HUH?
I realize there are a lot of products and venues out there that don’t hand over the right information to consumers. Here are few examples of how I’d change advertising to make it more relevant to parents.
Bras: Stop showing bras on just one model. Breasts vary. A LOT. Not just from person to person but over a lifetime. Bra makers should show them on implants, pre-pregnancy breasts and post-pregnancy breasts so we know how they work for the three major kinds of breasts.
Water parks: Do not show me a photo of a single happy family frolicking in the lazy river. Give us an aerial view of the whole park, on the hottest day of the summer, filled to capacity. Let us know what kind of a shitshow we’re really in for.
Toys: In addition to the age recommendations and photos of kids using the toys in imaginative ways, toy packaging should include an indication of how hard the box is to pry open before school on a kid’s birthday.
TV ratings: The sex, violence, and bad language warnings are good, but there should also be a rating for character voices. The Annoying Scale could run from Kermit (pleasant and amusing) to Dora (screeching and repetitive). Anything rated “Caillou” requires special licensing.
Food dyes: Look, I’m sure knowing the toxicity of chemicals used in our food is really useful in making nutritious choices, but I also need to know how much that Go-Gurt is going to stain and what it takes to get it out of clothing.
Detergents: These need to come with disclaimers like “LULZ. That Go-Gurt stain isn’t coming out. Sorry. But try me on grass stains!”
Cars: Part of the safety rating should include information on how hard it is to install a carseat. Can it be done in the rental car lot on a hot day without copious use of the f-word? Parents need to know this.
Movies: Theaters should list movies times, ticket prices, and the approximate temperature inside the theater so we know how many layers to pack so we don’t drown out the Minions with the sound of our teeth chattering.
Video Games: Once again, the age ratings are helpful, but there also needs to be some way of alerting parents to how obsessed kids will get, how hard it will be to make them stop playing and come to dinner, and how mind-numbing the endless talking about the game will be.
TV News: It seems like you should be able to watch the local newscast while the kids are around, right? You want to know what the school board is doing. But half the broadcast is like a Murder and Mayhem Report that could make Mayberry seem like Gotham City. News programs should tell us when the scary segment will air so we can tune in after that.
Medications: Drug makers are very good at warning us whether or not to eat before taking meds and if you can drive a tractor after taking them. However, they neglect to tell us how bad the medicines taste and what level of bribery will be required to get kids to actually swallow the stuff.
Tech devices: Look, all we care about is battery life, OK? How long will it keep the kids quiet and occupied?