Here’s a question for you: Just when you thought it couldn’t get any crazier than the edgiest ad you’ve already seen, what’s the edgiest ad you’re now seeing? Yep. The envelope is always getting stretched. That’s something we’ve learned here at CPYU during our years of studying youth culture. Stuff not only changes over time. But over time, the stuff that changes changes us. In other words, the stuff that used to make us grimace 15 years ago is now, relatively speaking, somewhat tame.

While it’s not a pleasant thing to be reminded of this, it’s nonetheless something we need to be reminded of. You see, if we don’t know what’s in the soup that our kids swim in everyday, we can’t address it. And if we can’t address it, they’ll keep swimming in it and thinking that it’s a normal part of life in this world. The reality is that if we want to instill in our kids a way of looking at and living life from a biblical perspective, we’ve got to be checking the soup of youth culture and talking with them about the rapidly changing ingredients we find.

My thoughts were prompted by a series of Flirt Vodka Valentine’s Day Ads found and sent to me by Ty Houge, a youth pastor working with kids in Western Michigan. Ty actually emailed me the ads while he was sitting in the back of the room last Friday night while I was speaking to a group of parents about marketing and teenagers. The ads are one more reminder of the need to help kids think Christianly and biblically about everything in their media-saturated world. . . . especially the ever-present world of marketing. Remember, ads do sell product. But their most powerful influence comes through their ability to sell not product, but to sell a way of looking at and living life (a worldview). Which is why I spent some time last Friday night telling parents about their need to train their kids to filter all marketing through what we here at CPYU call “The Simple Seven Ad-Filtering Questions.”

Here they are:

What product is this ad selling?
What, besides the product, does this ad sell? (ideas, lifestyle, worldview, behaviors, etc.)
What’s the bait, hook, and promise?
Complete this sentence: “This ad tells me, use_________ (the name of the product) and ____________ (the result the ad promises).
Does the ad tell the truth? What? How?
Does the ad tell a lie(s)? What? How?
How does this ad and its messages agree or disagree with God’s truth and what does that mean for me?

So here are the four ads for Flirt Vodka (A bulgarian brand that has developed quite a following for its online campaign here in the US) that serve to shape the way kids look at life, love, gender, sexuality, etc. I’m warning you that they’re over the top and the envelope has indeed been stretched.

How would your kids respond to these ads? Will they look and laugh? Will they look and grieve? Will they look and flatline in terms of a response? Each one of those responses and every response in-between tells us something about who they are, what they believe, what they value, and what they hold near and dear in their hearts.

Now that you’ve seen these ads, go ahead and comment. . . . pointing us to an ad that you’ve seen that you think warrants evaluation and discussion. We’re always trying to build on our archive of print ads that can be used to discuss God’s way and will for His world. And just so Derek doesn’t steal all our book giveaway thunder over at, here’s the deal: next Wednesday we’ll pull a winner from all those who post an ad worthy of discussion. The prize is a treasure. It’s a copy of our friend Sam Van Eman’s book On Earth As It Is In Advertising. The bad news is that the book is out of print. The good news is that I’ve got a brand new copy of this wonderful book on marketing to give away.

12 thoughts on “Something worth talking about. . . .

  1. as a man, husband and God’s child, I’m always trying to starve my eyes and to stay away from the filth that this world promotes as cool.

    This is another indicator of who the world worships.

    If ads like this come on TV, i’ll have to throw my TV away.

  2. I love the questions! Thanks for sharing them Walt.

    The ads in and of themselves don’t seem to be selling Vodka…looks like they are selling a lifestyle. The angels or demons add another piece of conflict.

  3. Anyone seen the ad for Ashley; it aired in houston during the super bowl. Horrifying…the site is a social networking site for people seeking to have an affair.

  4. I am speaking at a convention on Kidz & Culture USA and these ads are very shocking!! Are they being shown on TV here in america??? or in another country? i notice the foreign language! Does anyone know!?
    They are definitely representing a
    ‘lifestyle’ that our media is once again feeding our kids that is acceptable and “what feels good do it”!

  5. Touche jerlight. All the more reason to discuss such an ad, as clearly someone else has an opinion about it as well using it satirically. If this is how one group reacts to the originals (by making something even more lascivious), how then should we as Christians and they as youth react to such an ad?

  6. I have a couple that might warrant a discussion (i really want the book b/c you recommended it to me during your conference in holland, mi last week)

    this is an ad for dell product red. it combines social activism with popularity and sexiness. As if social activism could get any trendier.

    2.) I do not have a link for these, but ESPN has been peppered with ads for a piece of workout equipment called the perfect pull up and perfect push up. These commercials show that body image is an issue for guys as well, and that marketers are attacking this insecurity.

    hope you find these interesting

    Dominic Palacios

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