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9 January 2020

Who'll clean this up?

by Syd Briscoe


Little Acorns: “Swap the Mop” - 1 min 40s

This tone-deaf commercial for fostering initiative Little Acorns has its heart in the right place... but fails when it comes to execution. The film rests on the premise that those with grown children who "feel empty inside" should consider acquiring a foster child for their own amusement.

In a move we can only assume wasn't run past anyone who's been in the care system, the film makes the stunningly stupid decision to have a grubby floor mop stand in for a fostered child. With this dehumanising choice, plus a focus solely on the feelings of the foster parents and a total removal of the child's agency, any goodwill which could have been generated by the campaign is dead in the water.

Naturally, Little Acorns has withdrawn the campaign after social media outcry. We can't help but think it could have been avoided with just a smidge of emotional intelligence from those involved in making it, or even a quick google to check that the #SwaptheMop slogan hadn't already been used by a cleaning brand in 2019.

The most worrying aspect of this campaign - coming as it does from an independent fostering agency - is that it suggests fostering for all the wrong reasons. There's more to raising a child than a highlight reel of achievements and golden moments, and this film seems aimed at those who want only that aspect of family life - not putting in the hard work that many children who have been through traumatic lives beforehand need.

More than that, suggesting a vulnerable foster child can be a tool to enrich a boring life is foolish, ignorant, and downright irresponsible. This is a campaign that should have known better... and stayed firmly on the drawing board.


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