Hoo boy. This is a multi-faceted commercial, except for the unfortunate fact that all the facets are bad.
Let’s just get the most obvious problem out of the way first–child actors are annoying. Always. Don’t try to question me on this–I’m right, darn it. From Jake Lloyd to Dakota Fanning (until recently, I suppose), little kids have often played a role in ruining things that could have had the potential to be good. This commerical is no different, and it isn’t just because these kids are grating to listen to or because the girl at the 20-second mark looks like she wants to eat my soul. No, it’s because as the title of this article implies, this is a commercial for a university. If you’re attempting to sell a product marketed towards adults, you should probably start by marketing the product towards adults. This isn’t an ad for LeapFrog. This is an ad for a product that will cost tens of thousands of dollars of real adult money. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why using kids is an inherently bad idea.
Problem number two is the false perception of technology. According to these twirps, technology exists for the sole purpose of making things “smart” and “bright”. Smart. Bright. Smart. Bright. But technology does more than that, doesn’t it? Call me crazy, but I’ve always carried the notion that technology exists both to make our day-to-day lives easier and to enhance our understanding of reality. But I don’t know. Maybe all technology does is create bright rectangles.
Third, although this is an admittedly minor point, it bothers me how they change the way they’re using “smart” and “bright”. They have different meanings when referring to a tablet, but they’re just synonyms when you’re talking about a person! It doesn’t work in this ad as much as Ashford thinks it does.
Finally, the most fatal flaw of this ad is the message. People go to college and take online classes to better themselves and improve their chances for success and fulfillment in life. A college degree is a serious undertaking, and achieving one only comes through hard work and perseverance–attributes that come in handy with dealing with all other aspects of the adult world. But according to Ashford, as long as you have internet access, you don’t need physical schools, because those places are dumb. And once you get a degree from Ashford, you won’t have to work hard and will be able to do whatever you want.
Technology may, in fact, change everything. But if it actually changed people like Ashford suggests, I would have little hope left for humanity.
Frustration Index Meter: 5/10