Why Did Judy Harris Approve This Ad?

January 21, 2006


Gameboy commercial on Channel One News (taken from a middle school broadcast)

From Jim Metrock:

Pediatricians hate this type of ad.

I know. I have shown similar Channel One ads to two committees
of the American Academy of Pediatrics. One was the Public Education
committee and the other the Council on School Health.

Anything that could encourage risky behavior in a young person
concerned them – concerned them a lot.

I remember showing a room full of pediatricians in Chicago several
commercials from Channel One. I knew the Twinkies ads and the Gatorade
ads would upset them, but I was quite frankly surprised by the
irritation, almost anger, in the group when they saw commercials
that showed youths engaged in some risky behavior.

For example, I showed them a Mountain
Dew commercial
(1998) that had a young parking attendant
driving recklessly and jumping the car from one building to another
only to safely spin into a parking space.

When I showed this ad, I knew the "baby docs" would
be fuming because the ad was for a soft drink, but many also expressed
outrage at the driving that was depicted.

I honestly thought that this crazy driving was like a cartoon
and that the pediatricians would dismiss it because teens would
understand it’s just a joke. I learned a big lesson that day about
the power of images. These doctors knew that even unrealistic depictions
of young people taking dangerous risks have an impact on youthful

I’m not that smart to understand all the psychological issues
involved, but I know that young people think that little to nothing
will harm them. Old people die, not them. Anything that promotes
a culture of driving fast or driving recklessly, or in the case
of the current Channel One ad, walking mindlessly through traffic,
doesn’t send responsible messages to young people. The collective
impact of such ads help create a "I can do anything and it
won’t hurt me" mentality.

I try to picture Channel One’s president Judy Harris previewing
this Nintendo commercial before giving final approval. I have played
the commercial several times imagining this lady sitting at her
desk and watching the teenager playing the handheld video game
walking through speeding traffic. I like to think the best of people,
even the folks at Channel One News. I don’t see her saying, "Oh
yeah, that’s a ‘Go’ on this one."

No, I see Ms. Harris frowning and asking questions of her sales
person. "Does Nintendo have any other spot we can run?" She
might be told that they don’t have any alternative commercials
for the Gameboy Advance and that Nintendo will be upset if Channel
One doesn’t run this ad. Who knows? I just know that an adult who
is a mom herself wouldn’t approve this ad, and many others on Channel
One News, without a lot of soul searching.

This commercial also encourages young people to "lose themselves" in
the video game experience. The subtext of this ad is "forget
your life, just play the game." "Nothing matters except
game playing."

This promotes a sedentary lifestyle that is unhealthy for American
youth. Channel One sees no conflict with running this ad and their "One
Step To A Better Me." There is a conflict and parents and
educators understand it.

Why is Channel One News dying? This type of ad is what Channel
One News is about and the American public doesn’t want this in
their children’s classrooms anymore.

Another from the archives: Dew
Some Reckless Driving
(Channel One News ran this ad in high
schools and middle schools (2001).)