Wednesday, October 26, 2011

When a child doesn’t read, imagination disappears

I’m not a happy-ever-after junkie. By and large, I prefer the darker fairytales over the sanitized/sugary Disney ones, but that did not make me immune from being a tad depressed upon seeing these PSAs:


Cinderella losing her rosy glow, now all ghostly pallid and limping along the hospital corridor with an IV drip beside her; Peter Pan with the magic of Neverland wearing off, now old, sickly-looking and wheelchair-ridden. Any fairytale-lover’s heart will break a little when they see what happened to these classic storybook characters. But that’s exactly the concept behind these ads: the characters growing old, slowly dying, and eventually disappearing because of illiteracy. The ads are a part of the 2008 campaign The Gift of Reading, launched by the Quebec-based organization Literacy Foundation. Their main aim is to fight illiteracy.

“Reading feeds our imaginations,” says Gaëtan Namouric, Executive Vice-President and Creative Director at the agency. “When a child doesn’t have access to reading, that’s a child deprived of an imaginary world. This unbelievable injustice should mobilize a large number of industries in the field of culture, media, publishing and even ours, advertising. What would our future be if people couldn’t understand our messages? The mobilization behind The Gift of Reading® is also to take action to protect tomorrow’s creative; everyone in our industry should contribute.”

I found a TV commercial version of these prints:

Literacy Foundation: The Gift of Reading - Cinderella

It’s a smart commercial, albeit a depressing one (at least for me). I wish there were more ads like this! I have nothing against ads that use copious amounts of innuendo to tickle the minds of consumersin fact I commend those that are too smart that their meanings can be construed into more than two waysbut I prefer the ones that promote awareness.

In this video, Hansel, a dwarf from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and Sleeping Beauty made an appearance too, and apparently they are also weak and sickly. In the doorway of the operating room we see Little Red Riding Hood’s hood hanging on a nail. You can only hope that the ‘doctors’ can save her life, or she will never be able to bring those basketful of bread to her grandma. :(

The good news here is all of us can be the "doctors." There are a myriad of ways we can help to make the children read, not only by donating books.

Let's digress a bit and zero in on one dilemma. One reason why most kids nowadays do not bother picking up books is the influx of products of modern technology that are completely arresting their attention. Instead of reading books, they prefer to spend all their time in front of the computer and other gizmos while playing games.

If we can instill in their young minds that there are amazing treasures they can only discover in books, we have a big chance of preventing the above classic characters (and every character in all forms of literature) from 'disappearing' completely. Let's do what we can to promote literacy. :)


  1. Aww that's an amazing commercial. So beautiful and sad! I love it when they put a bit more effort in. And I love it even more when the thing the commercial is for, is something like reading!

  2. It is! I laud the foundation who thought of it. Far better than most ads today, which just toy with the consumers' minds with dirty innuendo and such (not that I can blame them...those ads SELL). I really wish there are more PSAs like this, something that aims to help other people--literature-wise--in the most creative way.

  3. I completely agree! I wish more ads played on imagination and intelligence instead. I can't stand the ads with a pretty girl standing beside the product (without any reason at all).

  4. "I can't stand the ads with a pretty girl standing beside the product (without any reason at all)."- me too! Too bad that majority of the ads in the history of TV is made up of that. xD