Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
July 15, 2011

KIA Ad: Pedophilia or Just Naughty School-Girl Fantasy?

If you were left either puzzled or appalled after examining this Kia Sportage dual climate air conditioning ad, then you weren’t alone. Despite winning an award at The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, the ad has (unsurprisingly) garnered accusations promoting pedophilia.  In their brief article on it, The Huffington Post describes it as featuring a “teacher lusting after his elementary school-aged student.”

Though I can see where this argument comes from (and don’t entirely disagree), a strict reading of the image doesn’t support it.  In actuality, I think the ad shows us a horny adolescent fantasizing about her instructor, not the other way around.

In all the frames but one, the man is shown on the left and the girl on the right.  If the placement of the figures is an indication of perspective, then the left-hand (innocuous/cool) column is the teacher’s perspective.  His young, innocent, and entirely un-sexy elementary student is simply offering him an apple.

The right-hand (sexy/hot) column, on the other hand, is his female student’s perception of the scene.  The close-up of the teacher eating the apple (with an unattractive degree of slobber, if you ask me), is what she is imagining – as well as a fantasy, naughty school-girl version of herself.

— Cate Blouke

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