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The 6 Creepiest Marketing Campaigns Aimed at Children

When you're a child, all of your income is disposable, and as far as you're concerned so is your parents'. That's why everyone from mega-corporations to school yard drug dealers crowd in to get a piece of the pie.

It's also why you get advertising campaigns so desperate they're downright creepy. Such as:

#6.
Abercrombie & Fitch's Thongs For Kids

Clothing retailers are no strangers to racy ads. For instance, American Apparel takes a lot of heat for their overtly pornographic ads featuring underage women engaged in what appears to be an especially naked form of yoga.

But American Apparel is predominantly worn by people over 18, so it's all adult fun, right?

The same cannot be said for Abercrombie, a company that produces clothing that is extremely cool to wear when you're in high school, and suddenly transforms into the official uniform for the varsity douchebag squad the day you get to college. Since high school students are the only people who can wear the brand without being called "bro" ironically, you might find it odd that minors aren't allowed to purchase Abercrombie's quarterly clothing catalog. But you'll probably find it less odd once you see that the catalog is mostly pictures of naked teenagers playing touch football in rustic locations, instead of, you know, clothing.

In 2002, Abercrombie decided to take it to a whole, new level of creepy when they unveiled thong underwear for 10 year old girls. Now, no doubt some have tried to rationalize away the unspeakably nasty implications here by saying maybe there must be some perfectly good reason for the design (comfort? Saving fabric?).

Just to make sure no one makes that mistake, Abercrombie & Fitch added skanky little captions to the underwear like "eye candy" and "wink wink." We want to ask who exactly is supposed to be the audience for a message printed across a little girl's crotch, but we're scared of the answer so we'll just move on.


From A&F's new Jailbait line, due out this September.

#5.
Freddy Krueger's Bed-Time Story 900 Line

This ad has the decency to encourage children to get their parents' permission before they dial the number for Freddy's "Dead Time" stories.

Notice the way the guy's voice swells with mocking laughter when he tells "children" to "ask your parents before calling?" If we didn't know any better, we'd think this ad was trying to send children an unspoken message, along the lines of:

"That's right kids, go ask your parents to spend $28.55 / hour so you can listen to stories told by the character who turned Johnny Depp's bed into a Bellagio fountain of blood!

Oh hey kid, wait a second! Back here. It's me, the subtext. I know that guy just said to ask your parents, but you're young enough to not be embarrassed by bed-time stories, so that makes you what, six or seven? Yeah, that's no good. Your parents are going to say no. Or they're going to say yes, which means you have terrible parents. So bad news either way.

Don't ask them kid, show them how tough you are. On the phone bill. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go talk to your dad about something called phone sex."

#4.
Rozerem - Back to School Sleeping Pills

Back to school, that special time when families everywhere head to Target to buy pencils, Hannah Montana lunchboxes and ... prescription sleeping pills. In 2006, a sleeping pill called Rozerem started running an ad that managed to be simple and direct and baffling at the same time.

According to the pharmaceutical website Pharmalot.com, the ad has someone reading the words "Rozerem would like to remind you that it's back to school season" over images of chalk boards, school books, a school bus, and kids with backpacks.

Simple enough. Thanks for the reminder Rozerem, but what the hell does that have to do with your product? Are you suggesting that parents use the pill as a weapon in the battle over bedtime? Or is it just that when you're Rozerem, ads don't have to make any sense? You might remember the other Rozerem campaign in which Abraham Lincoln talks to a beaver.

Nobody at the pharmaceutical company ever owned up to approving the back to school spot, so we'll never know if they were actively playing the drug dealer on the playground or just not even trying to put a coherent message together. The FDA really didn't give a shit either way since Rozerem hasn't been approved for children.

Sorry mom and dad. Looks like you're going to have to go back to shots of whiskey to get the kid to stop bitching about how Freddy's coming.

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