Advertising and autism: the search for Badrul

I know that the UK National Autistic Society didn’t negotiate their two-year partnership with just for me but it almost feels like it.  I have been ‘out out’ dancing SO many times to that song.

Advertising plays a significant part in our family’s life, seeing as it puts the food on the table.  It is a source of great pride – my husband has shelf-loads of awards for the work he has done – most importantly for the work he does for charity.

I wish husband had been behind the ‘…cos you’re so’ campaign, I love it so very much for so many reasons.

Dave’s epic strut, say no more.  Then there’s Graeme, riding on his elephant, my heart will always skip a beat when a man turns a steering wheel using the flat palm of his hand.  Raw burning machismo.

And then there’s the bloke who runs with the cats.  Interesting trivia: all around my home town of Croydon and up onto the common exactly where I walk my dogs.  What are the chances of that, eh?  Way more exciting than meerkats.

Despite my wistfulness, wonderful husband is maintaining his position as grade 1 hero, as ever. This week, he and hopefully most of his colleagues are going to be joining in with Onesie Wednesday, one of the National Autistic Society’s suggested ways to Stand Out for Autism, to raise money and awareness.

Of course, there had to be a Mad Men advertising spin on it… love him.

Let’s hope the swaggersome cocksure spirit of Mr Draper possesses him because quite frankly, much as I adore him, we all know he is going to look awful.

As long-suffering wife of advertising creative, I probably pay more attention to the adverts than the average housewife.

My all-time most favourite adverts are those for any product that wants to claim 100% riddance of something or other, but legally can’t.  Those that have the serious scientific animated bit in the middle demonstrating how the product works (as otherwise us housewives couldn’t possibly understand the concept of anti-dandruff shampoo, toilet cleaner, mouth wash etc…)

You have possibly noticed the little bit of dandruff, germs, plaque, etc that advertisers have to leave visible “post-rinse” as they can’t say their product is 100% effective, only “up to” 100%…

If not, you’re in for a treat from now on!

I don’t watch much TV but if I’m near a screen when the ad break comes on, I like to stop what I’m doing and hover, ready for the chance to play “spot where they’ve hidden the [germ, flake, pollen spore, other icky] bit that they had to leave behind so they don’t get into trouble”.

It brings me super geeky trainspotter-esque pleasure.  I’m really very sorry daughter, apparently being on the spectrum is at least partly genetic… and I could nigh on hand flap merrily about this.  Such fun.

Like most parents, I am also very conscious of how adverts affect my daughter.  It’s the only time that she goes a little bit Rain Man (in a sweet way).

She will repeat them word-for-word after very few watches and knows the tunes off by heart almost immediately.  Plus seeing as they are made by hero-grade men like her Daddy, of course she believes they must all be 100% true.

On the down side, if I ever campaign about anything ever again, it will be that the commercial kids TV channels stop being so effing greedy about advertising revenue and stop running charity begging adverts.

I cannot tell you how many times I have patiently listened to my daughter tell me about the fricking snow leopards: “but Mummy, she survives the harshest winters only to be ruthlessly hunted by poachers.  The stunning snow leopard!  They want her bones for medicine, her fur for decoration…” and on it goes for about 1 minute.  (Yes, click the link, watch the video, marvel at how I also know the words off by heart.)

This went on for months… then she saw the advert for the kids who have no clean water, then some neglected donkeys (and geez those pictures were awful for any channel let alone a kids channel). Then something else and then something else…

She was tortured.

Apart from all of the night terrors that all of these tragic causes featured in, the saddest thing is that it just left her feeling so sad and empty about humanity… and her poor Daddy got a lot of misplaced anger and crap thrown at him.

But then there’s the upside: when it gets funny.

Just recently daughter started to go to the fridge and get herself a glass of juice, guzzle it down, and then shake her head in dramatic disbelief…

“Wow”, she would exclaim, wiping her mouth “that just tastes so good.”

She would look up and gaze dreamily into the middle distance, slowly nod her head and with a knowing almost creepy smile, she’d say: “Thanks Badrul”.

…and then off she’d go back to whatever she’d been doing.


I’d be left standing there (also gobsmacked that she actually got her own drink rather than sit on the floor whinging until I got her one) thinking who on earth is Badrul?

I’m the one schlepping round Waitrose.  She’s not left the house in weeks… she’s met no one new… who is Badrul?

It went on for a while.

Then eventually, it became clear that Badrul is the nice smily indian man who spends his life turning over the mangoes that go into Innocent juices.

Thanks Badrul.
Thanks Badrul.

Each mango gets hand turned by Badrul for seven days.

Every single one.

By Badrul.

Seven days each.

So I suppose she’s right, it’s only fair that when she stands in the safety and privilege of her suburban kitchen in a home just outside the capital city of one of the major powers of the western world and casually chugs down yet another glassful of over-priced Innocent apple and mango juice (at I suppose about 70p a go, hear me weep), she says thanks to Badrul.

She sometimes asks if we could call up Badrul to thank him in person. I swerve that by saying that I’m sure he knows, plus the huge cost of international telephony would mean that she would have to forego her Innocent juice for a while and then he wouldn’t get paid so much.  She sadly and soberly agrees that not saying thank you, in this instance, is probably for the best.

That has to be the epitome of (small i) innocent.  Love her.

5 thoughts on “Advertising and autism: the search for Badrul

  1. With you on the charity ads!

    Or any ads during kids’ TV.

    Only this morning, there was a report on BBC breakfast news about kids, some as young as 5, who’d had a negative experience after playing 18-rated computer games (whether online or on an XBox etc was not made clear). It wasn’t necessarily the game itself that led to the negative experience, but often associated adverts e.g. online dating, contraception etc., so I suppose those must have been online ones.

    Now, I’m not quite sure what a 5 year old is doing playing any kind of game online unsupervised, but that’s a different matter.

    But, it just goes to show the power of advertising, particularly on young minds that are so ready to absorb anything and everything that comes their way, but without the maturity to be able to discern between real knowledge and subtle advertising ploys.

    That brings us back to the charity ads and the WWF ones in particular – Snow Leopard, Tiger, etc etc. Why are they screened on kids’ TV channels at all? After all, children don’t generally have bank accounts from which to set up the monthly direct debit. So, the fact the donor will receive a pack that includes a cuddly toy that only bears a passing resemblance to the Snow Leopard, Tiger, Dolphin, Whale etc., is, in my opinion, not even a subtle ploy but rather one that cynically targets children and their natural empathy with suffering children / creatures and the Pester Power they can then exert on their parents.

    I won’t even get started on what I think about some major charity fundraising events….


  2. Omg, my daughter who has an asd, is just the same. She got me as far as going on to the WWF website to adopt the snow leopard as I couldn’t stand her trauma anymore, whilst there , maybe I was being dim, but it wouldn’t let me check out until I had adopted another animal along with it ! Sorry J, I have conned you into thinking you have sponsored one, at least she feels good now ! Adverts have has a big affect on all my 3 with asd. The most memorable was when my son was being assessed for a statement and the ed pchy. bless her, was stating that were we sure he was autistic as he was very verbal , don’t you just love these professionals. At 3 years old was holding court I his opportunity class to all the parents in a loud voice, Tena lady, love , laugh. live and is still a walking Ad for adverts now and he’s 16. At least we all have a common language x

    Liked by 1 person

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