Norway’s Heart and Lung Association has created a memorable, albeit questionable, campaign to warn parents of the dangers of not washing their children’s soft toys.
The advert transforms regular toys like teddy bears and bunnies into dictators — including North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Libya’s Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler — along with the message “teddy bears can be dangerous” to show how dust and microbe buildup on toys can have harmful effects (including asthma) on little ones.
To drive home the message that “collections of dust in children’s rooms can provoke asthma and allergies” and give the advice to “wash stuffed animals four times a year”, the LHL Asthma and Allergy joined forces with advertising firm Kitchen. But while the message the advert is trying to convey is a powerful one — and a warning all parents should take on board — it has also sparked backlash because some see it as being insensitive.
The advert has been banned in Norway, and members of the Norwegian Jewish Society, Det Mosaiske Trossamfund, said it was concerned by the use of Hitler in the campaign, Daily Mail reports.
“Hitler was a mass murderer, and he doesn’t deserve this kind of attention”, a member stated. “I’m worried that Hitler can be made to seem less dangerous when he’s used in such a way”.
Comments on the LHL Asthma and Allergy page include, “Was Hitler-reference really the best that you come on?” and “Message as to take up the fight against dust like Hitler did to the Jews? Total Annihilation? that’s how it goes well when all publicity is publicity anyway…”
But not all feedback has been negative.
“This is no different to Charlie hebdo … Funny how everyone is on the side of freedom of speech unless it’s anything to do with Jews… Anyhow good on you… If this prevents even one child getting asthma then it’s worth it. Personally I didn’t know or even think about dust in teddy bears and now I do…” one commenter wrote.
Kitchen stands by its decision for its controversial campaign.
“By focusing on children’s bedrooms we want to stop the problem of asthma and allergies before it even starts to develop. This campaign addresses how dangerous stuffed animals can be if they are not washed regularly”, Kitchen copywriter Bendik Romstad told The Local.
“For children, stuffed animals can be just as dangerous as the world’s worst despots”, she added.
A second copywriter, Maren Gimnes, also weighed in on the campaign, saying, “With a simple and clear message combined with a very bold idea we managed to turn LHL Asthma and Allergy from an organization no one knew to being on everyone’s lips. But most importantly, the Norwegian people became aware of a very important fact — that they have to wash their stuffed animals so they don’t become dangerous!”