I love kids. You love kids (maybe). We ALL love kids, right? Yes. This isn't about the inherent joy brought about by kids. This is about kids in advertising and commercials. Kids are sometimes necessary for selling products. Hell, there'd be no toy industry without kids in commercials. But when they're not necessary in commercials is when they're NOT NECESSARY in commercials. Not every commercial needs a kid in a speaking role. I recently saw a local TV commercial which had some kid mush-mouthing something about the service. And it was horrible. Now, don't get me wrong, this is totally not the kid's fault. He's just doing what he was directed to do and was probably pretty psyched to do it. It's not his fault he's not a trained actor. The fault is in the people who decided to put the kid in the commercial in the first place. And/or the salespeople with the TV station who couldn't (wouldn't?) finesse the client into thinking this was not a good idea. Look, when casting a kid in a commercial, unless the part calls for a specific blandness or (in this case) mush-mouthedness, make sure they're CUUUUUTE. TV? LOOK cute and if speaking SOUND cute. Radio? SOUND cute. People love kids who are cute. They can't stand kids who are TRYING to be cute but are not. Is it good experience for them? Yes, if they want to be an actor someday but my reply to that would be, 'maybe get them some acting lessons?' Sales people. If you have a client who insists on their kid being in the TV spot and they're not the cutest, then insist on a paid child actor.
- They'll have some acting training and can deliver a line.
- They're more than likely going to be cute.
- Yes, it'll cost a little more but you're billing a might chunk of change. If they're willing to spend big bucks on local TV ad time, what's a couple hundred dollars more?
Another reason, and probably the most important, to NOT put an untrained or non-cute kid in your spot? You don't want that commercial to be known for all the WRONG reasons, right? That could stick with this kid for a long time and that's not fair to the kid. Basically, the client is being selfish and not thinking all of these things through. "My kid's cute and it's my business" is an ego thing. What about the kid? You KNOW your kid isn't an actor and if she fails miserably (see 'mush-mouth' above) they'll be known in the market as The Mush-Mouth Kid™️ From the Local Commercial!
Trust me, if you put some thought into the spot, take your ego out of it, viewers/listeners will remember the spot for all the right reasons. To quote Whitney Houston: "Teach them well and let them lead the way. If they wanna act leave they asses inside!"