We regretfully bring you the following wide-awake nightmare (viewer caution advised):
In case you’re confused by the purpose of this ad, here’s an explanation: the “creepily sadistic” little boy scalping women and catapulting cats is part of an advertising campaign for Norway’s 1888 telephone directory/text messaging service, reports Gawker.
If you saw this ad in America, would it convince you to use the product? Probably not–unless, of course, you felt the strange, inexplicable urge to look up either Child Protective Services or a good therapist (or both).
But perhaps this author is overreacting. Perhaps it’s unfair to ask that a foreign ad agency refrain from modeling characters in its commercials after the kid from “The Omen.”
The thinking behind this commercial is so incredibly strange that it’s difficult to understand it from an American perspective.
See, whether anyone wants to admit it or not, many Americans love a good commercial. Consider the fact that thousands tune in to the Super Bowl every year in hopes of catching a great TV ad.
Some have been funny:
And some have been “heartwarming” (or incredibly corny, depending on your point of view):
Commercials can be fun. In fact, they can be so enjoyable that people will share them with family and friends. In the age of Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter, a particularly good commercial will go viral within minutes of its release, generating massive amounts of buzz for a company.
Heck, even some actor’s careers were moved along because of the popularity of their commercials:
All the ads mentioned in the above were successful, widely circulated, and had a positive impact on the organizations that produced them. Can you guess what’s notably absent in all of these commercials?
Most of the ads that are well-received in the U.S.–this is an important distinction to make–are generally funny, good-humored, and G-rated. They usually don’t mix dark humor with little creepy devil children.
Moreover, even the American commercials that aren’t funny, good-humored, or G-rated, and there are many, have something that the 1888 commercial appears to lack: a target audience.
And that’s the main problem with this ad. Who is the target audience?
At least U.S. beer commercials featuring blonde supermodels wrestling in vats of Jell-O are clearly marketed towards hormone-driven American males between the ages of 5 and 80. Who in the world is the 1888 ad geared towards? People with Norman Bates-esque tendencies who also happen to hate cats?
And that’s why, as an American, it’s difficult to understand the thinking behind this ad. Who are they trying to win over? Is there really a portion of the Norwegian market that responds well to pale, violent boys armed with superglue and projectile cats?
To someone familiar with popular American commercials that have been crafted to appeal to a broad audience, it’s baffling that an advertising agency would produce an ad intended for a similarly sized audience with such unpleasant subject material.
In fact, the 1888 ad is so puzzling that even the quick-witted Gawker was at a loss for words when they tried to categorize it. All they could come come up with was, “My God The Rest of The World Is So Crazy I Love It But This Is Still Kind of Freaking Weirding Me Out.”
Indeed, one certainly feels compelled to agree with their “My God The Rest of The World Is So Crazy.”
[Editor's note: Of course, this entire article is contingent upon the assumption that Norwegians, like Americans, dislike violent devil children. I like to think that a commercial featuring Rosemary's baby circa the 3rd grade would creep anyone out, regardless of cultural barriers. I could be wrong. If I am, this means two things: 1) this article is pointless and it's actually a well-made advertisement and 2) Gawker is spot-on accurate when they write "My God The Rest of The World Is So Crazy."]