How Successful Was Daniel Kleinman in meeting the brief of the Charity?
For any charity, advertisement and raising awareness of the issue they are campaigning against is an essential part of their running.The NSPCC in particular find that raising awareness of child abuse is of vital importance, and this means that the advertisements they do broadcast have to be extremely effective.After studying an advert produced by Daniel Kleinman for the NSPCC, called The Ventriloquist, I have realized that in order to make an appeal advert as successful as possible, a number of devices must be used or taken into consideration.
The whole purpose of Kleinman’s campaign was to alert the public that there are millions of children out there who have no-one to turn to- and that by simply volunteering just a few hours of their week, they could completely change a child’s life.
The title given to the Campaign was ‘Someone to Turn to’, which refers to both adults being more aware of Child Abuse trying to act more productively against it; and also to encourage children to talk to the NSPCC because they are always there for them.
This advert in particular focused on alerting the public that Child Abuse is happening even in situations which may seem perfectly ordinary. The child in the advert was in supposedly safe environments with trustworthy figures that should have been protecting her- yet they all failed to notice what was going on, a point illustrated by the fact the man was sat right in front of them and perfectly visible, yet they still couldn’t see him
Other than all of this, the main aim of the charity is always to attract more attention to the problem and to encourage more contribution, whether it is through volunteering, donations or even through physically going out and taking action against Child Abuse. In my opinion, the advert is very successful, as it could have easily inspired all of the above events to take place. This is particularly impressive, as the brief Daniel Kleinman received would have been unbelievably difficult to fulfil, considering the sensitivity which has to be given to the subject.
It needed to be treated with complete appropriateness, and Kleinman had to take care not to be crude or offensive, but at the same time still highlight the brutality of the issue, both physically and mentally. I feel this is achieved, and that the advert manages to tactfully show how sinister and malevolent the situation is through using effective scenery, expressions, or even silence itself; and therefore illustrates how isolated and mute the victim is. So what is it about the advert which makes it have quite so much impact?
Kleinman used a number of technical devices in the advert, which contributed greatly to its success. For a start, he mixed visual effects and real people with animated effects and dummies. The ventriloquist act is very appropriate for several reasons- Firstly; it is a great allegory of how the man completely rules her life- so much that she has stopped being a real human being and is just controlled by him. Secondly, the whole principal of dummies is very chilling and ominous, and so people are alarmed right from the start of the advert when there is a dummy amongst a class of real children.
This draws attention to the girl, and our minds immediately focus on her. One of the best used animated effects was the dummy’s eyes. Using animation, the eyes were made larger than they should have been and therefore reflected the girl’s emotions a lot better- similar to Dennis Potter’s idea of using adult actors to represent children, as their larger bodies act as a kind of magnifying glass to the emotions and movements. They dummy’s eyes have this very same effect.
They are very expressive, and throughout the advert they look scared, uncertain, alarmed and sad; as well as constantly checking with the man before she speaks. Furthermore, at the end of the video after dismissing her mother’s concerned questions, she closes her eyes for a few seconds so that her complete misery is made obvious. Another technical device used by Kleinman is the soundtrack of the advert, which uses a good mixture between silences, background noises and actual music.
The advert begins with just the normal sounds of a school classroom, leading the viewer into a false sense of security, and when the dummy sat on the man’s lap comes into view, it makes it even more disturbing and shocking. Then, as the dummy speaks with the man’s voice, chilling music starts, making the scene even more alarming. This spine-tingling music is used throughout the advert, with the exception of just a few scenes, and results in a growing feeling of suspense, making the overall impact of the commercial much greater.
An alternative method used by Kleinman in the soundtrack is silence, an effect which works perfectly in the play park scene. The play park scene is perhaps the most distressing, which is mainly due to the isolation of the surroundings. We are witnessing firsthand a form of Child abuse, and as the viewer we are made to feel helpless- we can see the abuse happening, yet we can’t hear it or do anything about it. In this way, the video is extremely emotive, as it creates an urge in people to take action.
However, it is not just the soundtrack which created this feeling, and many other elements of the advert contributed to its success- Obviously, the actual Character and Narrative were a fundamental part. The man who was playing her abuser was extremely convincing in his part, and at some points actually made the viewer cringe with how alarming the scene was. His facial expressions were completely composed, showing how confident he is in treating the girl like this, as if it were perfectly natural.
Another part of his characterization which was as equally disturbing was his intimacy with the girl. Throughout the advert she is constantly sat on his lap, an allegory to his domination and control over her. Also, it stressed the fact that no-one can get close to her apart from him; and that she is isolated and separated from everyone else, even her own mother. Another affective part of the staging for the Advert is the fact that no-one else notices the man, stressing the loneliness and seclusion of the girl, and that no-one can get through to her.
In fact, it is the exact opposite, and she is shunned away by people- particularly her peers. This is represented predominantly in the bus scene, when everyone is laughing at her- even the paedophile is smirking and appears to be mocking her. Overall, I think that the most important feature in the commercial is the use of narrative, and the swapping of voices. The girl can’t speak for herself; instead the paedophile has completely taken over her life, always present and intimidating.
The deep man’s voice is grotesque, and immediately captures the audience’s attention and shocks them, making them mesmerized with the advert and meaning they are affected as much as possible by the advert. Consequently to such enormous affects on the Audience that the advert motivates, it is clear that Kleinman must have used extremely great directing techniques to create such a result. In particular, Kleinman uses lighting and colours a lot to put empathize on the mood of the film, such as putting the Ventriloquist doll under a direct spotlight to draw the viewers attention towards her.
This lighting effect also means that the doll has lots of shadows around her, especially falling on the Ventriloquist himself. These shadows represent the malevolence which surrounds the girl constantly, and how her whole life seems like a dark pit of despair. Another technical device which Kleinman used in the advert was the colouring used. Whilst the girl is around other children, the colouring is bright and energetic, as a children’s life should be, but as soon as she is away from them it becomes dreary and sinister- an illusion of what her life is like at home.
Throughout the advert, the background to the scenes is mirroring the mood of the soundtrack and lighting, putting empathise on the points being made even more. As part of my research for the making of this Advert, I watched an interview with Kleinman so that I could see what his objectives were whilst creating the advert. From seeing this, I discovered that Kleinman’s idea for the Ventriloquist doll was drawn out of his desire to show how controlled and vulnerable abused children were. Using a Ventriloquist is perfect for this, for they are naturally chilling even away from any fearful situation.
Kleinman felt that this automatically brought great tension to the scenes, and complete caught the attention of the viewer- the makings of an ideal advert. Owing to the number of effective elements of the advert mentioned above, it is logical that the impact on the viewers was extremely great. Any child-abuse advert automatically evokes sadness and sympathy from the audience; however because of the in-depth styles of directing which took place in the producing of this commercial, the audience are also made to feel complete empathy towards the girl, and it leaves them with severely distressing thoughts.
However, one of the main necessities of the advert was that its message was clear to younger audiences, and in this way the advert does not produce very good results. Due to the depth of the allegorical devices used in the advert, it is quite likely that a younger audience would find it hard to grasp the idea and information which is being portrayed. This is one of Kleinman’s only faults in the production of this advert.
In the majority of circumstances, it is young children, who are suffering in these abysmal situations and therefore the appeals also need to be suitable for someone of that age group. What is the use in alerting the public of all these horrendous acts if the children themselves cannot realize what is going on and tell someone? Overall, I think that due to the complexity of the advert, it is not suitable for a younger audience, as it would not have the wanted affect on them and be equivalently useless.
Despite all this, the advert is still incredibly emotive. So did Kleinman reach the Charity’s brief? Personally I feel that he did, as the disturbing nature of the advert resulted in the utmost awareness from the audience, meaning that the appeal was even more likely to be successful. This reaction to the advert is exactly that which the Charity wanted- they are inspired to take action against Child Abuse and are made conscious of the reality that Abuse can happen in the most ordinary of situations.