The World Is A Different Place In the Eyes of a Child

Kansas Viewpoint

Ad agency's promotion has literal appeal for kids; complicated explanation later, confusion still lingers

Published on: September 13, 2010
As a longtime mom and experienced grandma, I've come to expect, as Art Linkletter used to love to prove, "kids say the darnedest things."

Yesterday, I took three of my progeny in tow for a day of discovery at the State Fair -- story ideas and contacts for me, education for them.

But even in the publicity office, as we stowed extra gear and gathered schedules to determine our general attack pattern, it became obvious that communication might be an issue.

Several years ago, the Fair hired Wichita ad agency, The Greteman Group, as their publicity office. They came up with an enduring slogan, "It's a Wild Ride, Baby" and have supplemented that with various annual themes, including this year's "Sheep Thrills."

There are also a variety of posters including "Raging Bull" that quickly drew the attention of a 9-year-old and a 7-year-old.

Except try as I might to make them understand that these were NOT carnival ride promotions, I couldn't get it across.

"But Grandma, it says right here 'it's a wild ride, baby,' so these HAVE to be rides."

"No, honey, they don't LITERALLY mean ride. They mean the whole fair is a wild EXPERIENCE. The carnival rides are just the midway; the wild ride is everything there is to see and do."

Two pairs of eyes look at me as though I just spoke Greek. And I hear a 3-year-old voice pipe up "I want to ride the raging bull too."

I give up, toting them down livestock lane to see all the animals, ride the ponies, go see the butter sculpture and even spend 10 minutes talking to the lady at the NRCS booth, who proved really good with kids who weren't sure there even was a butter sculpture at the end of the waiting line, but who were perfectly willing to be convinced that there were spiders and snakes worth saving from extinction.

But it wasn't until we were on our way out that we found it. The Raging Bull.

It was a mechanical bull, complete with cushioned fall-off mat and speeds suitable for all skill levels. For $6 you could try your luck at bull riding, or as MY grandkids are convinced, conquering the "raging bull" they saw on the poster.

What's a Grandma to do, but pluck down the requisite cash and stand by for photos. The surprise is the 9-year-old is surprisingly good at this, handing on, waving her arm for balance and withstanding faster and faster spins and bucks until the "bull" is up to the level that leaves most teenagers and young 20s in the dust. And she is hanging tight.

Not that I really want her to tackle the real thing, but isn't that just cool?