Israel made headlines in 2012 when it banished the use of underweight models in advertising, but lately there’s a new controversy brewing on its billboards: a sexed-up campaign using underage models. Seriously underage.
A new ad series for Huggies diapers in Israel is featuring tots hardly old enough to walk on their own, shaking what their mamas gave them in grown-up clothes paired with denim-printed nappies. And the campaign, say a series of alarmed parents on social media, feels intensely sexualized and even pornographic.
The ad campaign, which includes billboards and a television commercial, shows the toddlers popping their hips, wiggling their butts, and posing with such grown-up props as electric guitars and designer purses, all while 90s pop music plays in the background. To some, the ads seem cute, but to others, who have expressed distaste on Twitter and Facebook, the kiddies are copping pint-sizes poses a la Bar Refaeli, and that’s more than a bit creepy.
“I don’t necessarily know if it was the intent for that little girl to be sexual, but it’s problematic on a larger scale,” says Shara Ellenbogen, a mom of one who tweeted her concern about the advertisements. “If you put that girl in the same pose at the age of 6 or 10 or 20, at some point it becomes inappropriate. So why is it appropriate for her to pose like that at the age of 3? She is posing like a stripper.”
When denim diapers hit the US several years with a similarly provocative campaign, tag-lined “The coolest you’ll look pooping in your pants” and showing a miniature Don Juan getting very grown-up ladies to turn their heads and bat their eyelids, Americans hardly even noticed.
Here in Israel, however, where we don’t have kiddie pageant shows or Kardashians, more parents, it seems feel that the ads should go to the same place as dirty diapers – straight to the trash.