If brand abuse was a crime, Ovaltine would be sporting unflattering horizontal prison stripes for a long, long time. The beloved chocolate drink, trusted by parents for nearly 100 years to get nutrition into kids, has squandered its positive reputation in a horrifying 41 seconds.
This spot is simply devastating. Heartbreaking. Enraging. Since when is child abandonment cause for laughter or celebration? We’re left in horror: an image of a shattered, weeping little boy punctuated by a jolly “parents love it as much as kids!” tagline and carnival music. A complete breach of brand promise. The emotional benefits shattered.
Just look at the language in the note from the deadbeat parents on the fridge. “We told you.” “Consequences.” “Hogging.” “Don’t try to find us.” Why on earth would Ovaltine betray its voice, a valuable brand asset, with so harsh, unforgiving and punitive a message? And when will brands realize that a silly push for attention -- an attempt to be funny or cool -- can destroy years, even decades of brand equity?
This monstrosity feels like it comes from an entirely different company. The Ovaltine web site wants us to believe it has more than a passing interest in the safety and well-being of kids. Health messages cover the site:
Really, you care about my kid’s health? What about poor little Andy stuck at home alone with nothing but the sound of a disconnected phone to keep him company? Hmmm? If he's a cautionary tale of what happens if you drink the stuff, what child would run the risk?
This is the type of spot we expect from Ovaltine:
Sure, it’s dorky and wholesome, but it makes Mom the hero. She’s nurturing. She cares about her kids’ health. And, oh, I don’t know. She’s still living in the damn house.
And back in this 60’s ad, Ovaltine made wood-chopping, bogeyman-shooing Dad the bee’s knees because he, too, drank Ovaltine. Look how big and strong he is, kids!
Sadly, Ovaltine today obviously has no interest in empowering parents to do right by their kids. It mocks the very notion of child welfare. Duly noted.
Look, Ovaltine. Just because you made your mark back in the 40’s by sponsoring the “Little Orphan Annie” radio show doesn’t mean you should hope to create millions of orphans today. I really can’t speak of this anymore without exploding. I will allow Ralphie Parker to take it from here. His closing eight words capture my ire perfectly.