Parents Might Recognize These Humorous Signs of a Kid Running on an Empty Tank

Low energy meets little imagination in work for Clif Kid

It's just a box, dad.
Clif

Advertising things for kids, especially food, follow a predictable pattern. The little rascals are hungry, but damn if they’re not happy and excited to burst through the door to a get a little snack when tummies rumble. Then, impossibly perfect mom or dad gleefully puts together a spread, and everyone laughs their way to the rest of the day.

The reality? Not so much.

Children, like adults, can be insufferable when the tank is empty. And that might be putting it mildly. When a 10-year-old needs some sustenance, they can veer anywhere from Danny Trejo-in-a-Snickers-ad mercurial to a frustrated ball of “meh.” The latter is what Callen, the Austin agency supported by Wieden + Kennedy, explored in a pair of new ads for Clif Kid Zbar (a staple of countless parental Target runs) with scenarios that probably won’t make an Instagram feed.

In the first spot, an adult valiantly attempts to engage a trio of kids in a playground—usually the domain of imagination and fun—that have slothlike energy levels as they calmly play a game of “dirt.”

The second ad features a dad and his daughter in a cardboard box which, most of the time, kids transform into a race car, airplane or spaceship. To the little girl with low energy, however, it’s just a box.

“With these spots we looked to buck against the trends of traditional kid product advertising, grounding our ads in the daily realities of raising kids instead of the usual idealized world of impossibly happy kids with boundless energy surrounded by perfect parents,” said Craig Allen, Callen’s founder and CCO. “We wanted these ads to capture the raw truth of the real moments that parents know all too well.”

This second campaign from Callen plays it relatively straight, gets to the heart of parenting reality and doesn’t tout the product’s organic bona fides as it did earlier this year in a campaign that highlighted the brand’s sustainability effort in the highly-competitive snack bar category.

The campaign, timed to back-to-school, connects to Clif’s “Field Guide for Creative Adventuring,” a downloadable resource that includes activities designed to get kids outside and encourage imaginative play. Of course, the goal is to get some Zbars into their hands to get them moving and back to a better place.