Concerned Children’s Advertisers (screenshot via YouTube)
Of all the weird things from the 90s tattooed into my memory, the “Don’t You Put It In Your Mouth” Concerned Children’s Advertisers PSA has to be one of the strangest. That’s quite a feat considering the tail end of the 90s also saw the launch of YTV’s “Keep It Weird” era among other trippy things.
In retrospect, the PSA was unsettling for a number of reasons. The puppets and their voices were so lame and creepy that I bet you’ll have a hard time ever forgetting them. The most troubling aspect, however, is that once you get to a certain age “Don’t You Put It In Your Mouth” seems like a horrible double entendre. While the PSA’s purpose on the surface may seem as if it’s to sway youngsters from accidentally ingesting something harmful, it doesn’t take much to interpret it as an anthem against oral sex.
Stuff of nightmares (screenshot via YouTube)
As the song featured in the PSA was written in a way that makes what exactly you shouldn’t put in your mouth a bit ambiguous, it just made matters worse. To be fair, the two-minute long version gave the song some context, but this was all missing in the minute-long version. The longer version mentioned if you eat bad food, someone else’s medicine or something poisonous, you could get sick; however, that was cut out in the shorter version and left the somewhat suggestive “always ask someone you love before you put anything in your mouth” at the end. Honestly, I thought the only way it could’ve gotten worse is if the lion added “especially if someone offers you birthday cake when it’s not your birthday.”
But really, how would a PSA like this actually prevent kids from putting random things in their mouths? Even if they watched the longer version with the explanation, the kids most likely to put things in their mouths are probably too young to understand what’s going on. Even if they could understand, it’s hard to take the puppets seriously as one of them chewed on a houseplant and a guitar in the two-minute version.
If you think the all around terribleness of the “Don’t You Put It In Your Mouth” PSA was an exception, not a rule to the Concerned Children’s Advertisers, then you haven’t had the privilege of growing up as a kid in Canada within the past 30 years. Many of their other PSAs were just as bad and played over and over during kids’ programming across the country, particularly on YTV.
If you pay careful attention to the “Smart as You” PSA you’ll see some footage of some classic YTV shows like Uh-Oh and Reboot (screenshot via YouTube)
The “Smart as You”
ad thankfully abandoned the puppets, but instead used a somewhat less creepy CGI TV to remind us that we’re smarter than a TV. Uh, gee, thanks? I think what they were trying to get at was that we have the power to turn off the TV and we should talk to people and play outside instead. It was conveyed in a kind of passive-aggressive way though, so kids didn’t feel pressured to follow through with it every time. If kids didn’t watch TV, then there wouldn’t be a need for kids’ TV shows and Concerned Children’s Advertisers. We wouldn’t want that now, would we?
How is this PSA not incredibly terrifying? (screenshot via YouTube)
Ma, there’s a hippo in my late 90s No Name chip bag (screenshot via YouTube)
Many of their other PSAs seemed to be creepy, just for the sake of being creepy. “Head,” wasn’t as much of a crazy double entendre as “Don’t You Put It In Your Mouth,” but I suppose you could make the argument if you really wanted to. This ad featured a kid’s head flying off his body and rolling around his house to his fridge. “House Hippo” featured a fabricated mini documentary about small hippos that lived in homes amongst people with the message being you can’t believe everything you see on TV.
Companies Committed to Kids (logo via Wikimedia)
So whatever happened to Concerned Children’s Advertisers? They’re still around, but now they’re known as the even clunkier-sounding Companies Committed to Kids
; however, despite the name change, they still run many of the same ads they did in the late 90s and early 2000s even though they look dated.
For those of you who grew up dreading the Concerned Children’s Advertisers PSAs, take a trip down memory lane by checking out some of their TV spots on their YouTube channel
(Featured Image: Screenshot via YouTube)