Palin Pauses

Bristol Palin, part of the now infamous Sarah Palin household, was recently featured in a new anti-pregnancy, public-service announcement (PSA) launched by The Candie’s Foundation. Neil Cole, CEO of the Candie’s fashion brand, launched The Candie’s Foundation in 2001 after discovering that raising awareness about the consequences of teen pregnancy was an issues niche that is severely underserved by corporate America. Since then, a string of celebrities—from Beyoncé, Ciara, and Jenny McCarthy to Vanessa Minnillo, Ashley Tisdale, and Hilary Duff—have strutted their stuff for the fashionable Candie’s Foundation to make an impression on our youth.

As with the aforementioned talent pool, there’s no doubt that Bristol Palin had the best of intentions when she lent her newly earned fame, garnered from her unfortunate situation with Levi Johnston and her subsequent quick launch into early parenting, to The Candie’s Foundation—by serving as both its “Teen Ambassador” and as the headliner in the newest addition to its “Pause… Before You Play” campaign. The latter PSA series uses fairly nuanced messaging: On the surface, it abandons the more bullying, authoritative, and judgmental tones of most abstinence-only promos in favor of a more subtle, friendly, and compassionate “think before you act” approach. But given Candie’s other related messages, which include “I Never Thought I Would Be a Statistic” and “Be Sexy: It Doesn’t Mean You Have to Have Sex,” it’s hard to say whether “Pause…Before you Play” is just a glossier take on that old fear-based “Don’t Do It” line. Regardless of where one falls on the abstinence issue and teens, however, one must question if the message sent by the PSA was ultimately the most compelling one the foundation could drum up. Even if one agrees that abstinence is the best and most realistic way to tackle the teen pregnancy problem, does the ad even truly effectively embody “Pause… Before You Play?” In the PSA, a very serious Bristol, holding her babe in arms, opines aloud:

“What if I didn’t come from a famous family?
What if I didn’t have all their support?
What if I didn’t have all these opportunities?
Believe me, it wouldn’t be pretty…”

The polished, 30-second spot could be misconstrued to imply that “it’s okay that I [Bristol] had sex and got pregnant because I have means and support, but chances are, you don’t, so don’t.” Chalk one up for the Class Wars. Somehow, BG doubts that the folks at Candie’s were trying to say, “Rich kids, have at each other like rabbits, but you poor youngins, back away from the bed, the backseat of the car, the contraception aisle at CVS before it’s too late.” On quick glance, the Palin PSA might even seem more like a trailer for an upcoming reality show than a sincere message that drives home one of the darker consequences of teen sex: ending up a mom at 18. However, given that Bristol Palin is the most famous teenage mom on today’s media circuit, whether the spot is hitting the target audience hard enough or sending some mixed signals could ultimately be irrelevant. After all, the PSA is doing exactly what The Candie’s Foundation and Bristol had hoped. It’s getting folks, however briefly, to take stock and––pause.

Filed: boys, branding, cause marketing, family matters, fashion

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