Marketing, Motherhood, and Mayhem

Kids can be an ally in Advertising

August 30th, 2010 by Deb McLean

I think children are often extremely effective when used in advertising.  One campaign that draws me in is the Ally Bank television campaign.  In one of this series of commercials for Ally bank, the GM finance arm formerly known as GMAC, a little girl is sitting at a small table in what looks like an observation room.


“Would you like a pony?” a man in a suit asks her.

“Yeah,” she replies.

He hands her a toy pony and she smiles big.

He turns to a second little girl, asks if she wants a pony, and she says yes.

He clicks his tongue and a real pony comes out.

The first little girl gives a look that could kill and says, “You didn’t say you could have a real one.”

“You didn’t ask,” he replies smugly.

This is one of the spots created by the Bartle Bogle Hegarty agency aimed at rebranding Ally and distancing it from the struggling automaker, General Motors. The rest of the campaign are similar bait-and-switch themes using kids.

The message: Other banks trick you with the fine print — Ally bank wouldn’t do that.

They are trying to rebrand a bank in the middle of a recession blamed on banks: Bring on the cute kids—and the pony!  It’s very effective.

The true genius of the spots is how real the reactions are from the kids. Most of the time when kids act, it looks like they’re reading lines from a script. But when the pony girl realizes she got cheated out of a pony, she looks genuinely aggravated, a complex reaction you’d expect from an adult, not a child. In the spot with the boy, when he gets handed a cardboard truck and says, “It’s a piece of junk!,” it’s raw frustration that we can all relate to, then laugh at because we’re watching it being acted out by kids.

What’s interesting is the kids don’t know they’re shooting a commercial.   Note the furniture in the background, where some of the hidden cameras—and cameramen were hidden.

It’s a great example of getting an effective message to the consumer in a creative way.

PS The little girl does get to ride the pony later.  All the kids were treated well and had fun.

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  • Hi Deb, we’re glad you enjoyed the commercials! They were a lot of fun to put together. In case you missed it, thought you might like this video that we made of the kids behind the scenes: