The power of advertising is a scary thing if you’ve got children.
I realised this the day my three-year-old approached me while I was scrubbing the sink one day and declared: ‘Mummy, you need some Cillit Bang. Just rub it in and, BANG! The dirt is gone!’
Advertisers know that children are like sponges when it comes to retaining information. And at this time of year, when parents are frantically trying to work out what Santa might do well to bring down the chimney, it’s ultimately us who are at their mercy.
You might think you’ve brought up your kids to understand how lucky they are, that money can’t buy you love, etc etc.
But after an hour of watching CITV, it’s an unusual child who doesn’t present you with a Christmas list so long you could wallpaper your bathroom with it.
Strangely though, my own three kids seem to be most enthralled by the type of advertising that isn’t specifically aimed at them.
The Cash For Gold ad was a particular favourite at one point in our household for a while, so much so that after one week at trampolining camp, my then five-year-old wanted me to send off his plastic medal, apparently convinced he’d be blessed with riches as a result. ‘Just fill out the form and pop it in the bag,’ he told me earnestly. ‘What could be easier?’ He delivered this instruction in such a worryingly enthusiastic voice I half considered giving QVC a call to see if he could audition.
But the latest obsession has captured their imagination so much that they prefer watching it over any actual programme.
Forget John Lewis, the ad that my kids adore more than any other is that Warburtons commercial for Giant Crumpets, featuring the Muppets.
It apparently set the company back £25million – and aside from the fact that I can’t compute how many crumpets you’d have to sell to recoup that sum – it is a massive hit in our household.
The ten-year-old loves it, the seven-year-old loves it - and the three-year-old loves it so much that he wants to watch it over and over again. Times a hundred.
I know this phenomenon is not uncommon for toddlers, that they think if something’s worth watching you might as well do it a dozen times. Only there’s a big difference between viewing say, Toy Story, repeatedly – which is an hour and a half long – and a clip that’s lasts a minute.
My little boy might never tire of it, but I’ve woken up in a cold sweat several nights this week dreaming about Kermit the Frog. Someone, please, make it stop.