There have been some unexpected side-effects of bringing our kids back to an English-speaking country. Most notably, it has revealed how sheltered our boys have been in some aspects of life.
I’m talking about advertising. Australia is full of it. And it’s really ‘in your face’.
Any visitor will tell you that there’s something quite reserved about Scandinavia, and that extends to the advertising too. Sure, there are billboards, TV ads and the occasional tele-sales call from newspapers and insurance companies, but when you overlay the additional filter of not being a native speaker and not intending to stay permanently in the country, it’s fair to say that the role of advertising is more about announcing the availability of products than in persuading you that you must have them, and now.
Our early exposure to life in Australia has changed all that. Everything is about ‘the sell’ here. As native Brits, my wife and I know how to deal with it, but the impact on our kids has been fascinating to see.
Aussie TV in particular seems full of shouty people imploring you to buy their wares before some imaginary deadline expires, and the kids are utterly convinced of this necessity.
Just this morning, our eldest son became convince that we needed, in turn, a robot pool cleaner (we don’t have a pool), a stair-lift (we don’t have any stairs) and an info-mercial promoted American vacuum cleaner (we just bought a vacuum cleaner a few weeks ago). At the same time, he professes wonderment at how inexpensive certain large purchases are, enticed by the low deposit, monthly finance schemes designed to lure you into signing up.
“Life insurance for just 25 cents a day, Daddy. That’s good isn’t it?” Since he doesn’t study the personal finance and insurance markets, I’m not sure what he’s basing this on, but he’s keen for us to sign up.
It’s a reminder of the need to educate the kids about different things than we would have encountered in Denmark. They have all the basics in place – they are revolted, rather than tempted by the toy doll who poops plastic charms which can then be assembled into a bracelet – “Eewww. Who would want to buy that?” Well, quite.
Now I just need to build on that selectivity by telling them that, even if they do think the new Nissan SUV range offers something for everyone, it’s going to take a lots of years of pocket money before they pay theirs off.