Ad Space – Make Your Children Cry

You are now entering Ad Space, a realm of commercials, brought before us so we might examine how they work, and discuss why we both love and hate them so. So it is written …

The Product:
Virgin Voyages cruise line

The Promotion:

The Pitch:
It’s not enough to enjoy a luxurious cruise – you need to know someone else has been excluded!

This ad is a master of mixed messages.

Virgin Voyages has apparently decided their big selling point is that their cruises are for people 18 and over; no children onboard the ships. And in places, this commercial does an excellent job demonstrating why that’s such an appealing prospect. Kids, after all, can be whiny, fussy, entitled brats, who start “causing a commo-oh!-tion” when they don’t get what they want. You don’t want that ruining your cruise.

However, the ad is also, undeniably, inescapably, from the point-of-view of sad children left behind while their parents go on vacation without them. There are multiple shots of kids staring forlornly into the distance, singing about how they’ve been abandoned. They go so far as to state, “We’re experiencing existential dread!

Like, damn! It’s almost as though they’re trying to make people feel like shit-heels for using Virgin Voyages. And I think they must have realized, at some point in the process, that they needed to dial back the guilt trip. Hence why they twice re-assure cruise goers that this kids-free luxury vacation is something “you deserve”. It takes this ad into a weird middle ground where it seems to be saying, yeah, we’re totally cruel and unfair to children, but you shouldn’t feel bad about that.

I can’t watch this ad without getting the uncomfortably plausible notion that Richard Branson is the villain of a 1990’s kids’ movie who somehow escaped into the real world.