Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority berated Mind Candy on Tuesday. The offence committed by the online company was using adverts inside Moshi Monsters to encourage the game’s young players to pester their parents for paid add-ons and subscriptions.
The problem has come up before with adverts even in games back in the 1980s, but it wasn’t this that grabbed my attention: it was the wording in the adverts.
Among the copy used were the phrases ‘The Super Moshis need YOU! Rise to the challenge and join the Super Moshis in their crusade’ alongside prominent calls to action such as ‘JOIN NOW’. This is the language of advertising from the Edwardian era and the propaganda posters of the First World War. The Moshi pages make frequent use of the words ‘you’ and ‘your’ to attract children’s attention and make them feel they are being spoken to directly. A classic market technique in 1914 and still effective now.
Black-and-white artist Alfred Leete used exactly that construction when he did his 1914 London Opinion magazine cover of Lord Kitchener that was taken up so powerfully as a government recruiting poster.
Millions of men volunteered to fight and die in the mud of France, enticed to join up by the ‘Your Country Needs You’ magazine covers and posters. In today’s consumer world, it’s children’s pocket money that the likes of Mind Candy are after with ‘Super Moshis need YOU!’.