Want to make your powerless, put-upon, can't-win children happier? Feed them Ragú.
So winks the brilliantly manipulative premise behind the Unilever pasta-sauce brand's ongoing "A long day of childhood"  campaign from New York agency Barton F. Graf 9000. The latest work, a series of radio spots airing in seven major markets, keeps delivering amusing and economical but surprisingly rich slices of life about the trials of being young—and how good guardians can help their kids feel better.
The punch lines are packed with no-nonsense insights about childhood that are actually about childrearing. We hear about a boy who gets shoes three sizes too big so his dad won't have to buy new ones when his feet grow; a girl whose parents burdened her with a vaguely psychedelic name; a kid who glimpses communist ideology behind her mom's insistence that she share her toys. The ads, now in rotation in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Dallas–Fort Worth, are subtly sympathetic enough to resonate with shopping-aisle moms (and dads) who want (need?) to chuckle at their kids while they take care of them. They're also, perhaps, accessible and entertaining enough for mildly precocious members of the under-13 set to latch onto and, if the brand's lucky, nag their parents about.
Meanwhile, the general tenor of the ads—especially the catchy pop-country jingles—deliver a dose of heartland bravado that could be charmingly tongue-in-cheek, or just charming, depending on the listener. And that branded patriotism dovetails perfectly with Ragú's promise that "America's favorite pasta sauce" will make your kid's day better.
Either way, the ads will probably make your day better.
Agency: Barton F. Graf 9000, New York
Music: Butter Music and Sound
Composers: Judson Crane & Ian Jeffreys
Audio Post: David Wolfe, Mr. Bronx Audio Post