Code Club

22 Jun

I was nice about an ad last time so it’s only fair that I can expose a villain today. And it’s not so much villainous in its lack of idea (it has one) – it is just the way the idea has been squandered.

Here it is folks:

It’s a great message – teach your kids to code and they will be tomorrow’s web entrepreneurs. But the acting, the editing and the writing let it down. Unless of course it was put together entirely by a class of schoolkids in which case I feel terrible….

But let’s assume it was created by an ad agency of some kind.

An advertising trope that I struggle with (one of many I’m afraid) is kids talking like adults. Why can’t kids talk like kids? Did no one in the room have kids? And I know the idea is that the kids aren’t impressed by the boffins who, between them, have enough billions to buy most of the world, but why do the little’uns have to speak like adults? Kids don’t use the same sentence structure or intonation as adults so they will never sound natural when they are made to. And if they don’t sound natural, they sound like they are acting. It feels fake. The trick is to create something fake – a panel of kids interviewing people – and make it feel real.

Then we get to the people being turned down. Does anyone else feel it’s a bit, well, dirty, like something has been desecrated? Tim Berners-Lee used as a fence for a gag about coding? Why wouldn’t the kids know who he is, or what Bebo, Skype, are? It’s a conceit, right? But it doesn’t work, does it? Because the kids look stupid. A nine year old who doesn’t know what YouTube is? Seriously, these kids need more than lessons on coding.

And what’s with the ending? They book UK Trade Ambassador Prince Andrew because of his Mum. This is the bit I’m sure the kids must have written themselves. The ad is leading somewhere and I’m waiting for a reveal, or a point, or anything, and it just fizzles out.

I’m left wondering what the team behind Code Club  want me to do having seen their viral. The call to action is ‘get your school involved’. Is this because the kids in the ad don’t know any of the people who ‘own’ the internet, nor any of their creations, and we need to do something quick to change this? Or have the kids just put together a really tough recruitment brief and no one apart from the Queen (not known for being that tech savvy) is good enough. The truth is we aren’t told.

And one last pedantic point. Tim Berners-Lee excluded, none of the people they interview are coders, or got anywhere by coding. They are ideas people. Other people wrote code so that their ideas could fly. It’s like having Allan Carr and Jonathan Ross telling kids to learn how to build TVs, or Zadie Smith and Iain Banks telling kids to learn how printing works.

Coding for Kids is a nice idea, it just needs to tell its story a little better.

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