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Can a laundry detergent ad take dirt too far?

Does relating children’s limited play time to prisoners in jail make sense for a laundry detergent ad?

UK brand Persil thinks so. In a raw, documentary-style short film titled “Free The Kids”, Persil attempts to make an impact on parents and prospective laundry detergent shoppers by presenting a truly upsetting statistic: 74% of children (in the UK) spend less than an hour outdoors daily. This statistic alone is impactful enough, and the connection with kids not getting outdoors enough and laundry detergent is apparent.

However, this short film focuses on prisoners in jail, and what outdoor time means to them, and what it would mean to them if they had even less of it. It’s everything to them. It’s the time they get to experience a sense of freedom. When they learn that the average child is outdoors less than they are, it’s disheartening. The prisoners then go on to give genuine advice. “Learn to be a kid,” they advise, and “climb a tree, break a leg” – always pressing the importance of spending time outdoors.

The short film is moving if presented as a PSA to get outside more, enjoy nature, or not to take things for granted. However, when you stamp it with a brand for laundry detergent, it just feels off. Is it genuinely concerned with today’s youth or more self-serving, hoping kids will get their clothing dirtier so parents will buy more laundry supplies. It is disappointing that kids aren’t outside enough, but there is so much emotion behind this video that connecting it with laundry detergent is just a narrow miss.

What do you think? Is it a stretch? Or a perfect fit?


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