Babies in ads boost sales… when used the right way!

by Kurt on November 1, 2011

Ah, babies. We all love them. And yes, that emotion is being used by advertisers as well.


Babies disarm

Babies can bring a “soft” message

Babies in ads are (still) rare, so it is eye-catching.


Sometimes they are just used as an artifact, sometimes smarter than that.








The use of babies in advertising is an “old practice” in advertising, as proven by this 1947 print ad:











I distill a few guiding principles for those contemplating using babies in their ads:

[1] A baby can help guide attention to the right communication elements in the ad:

Usability specialist James Breeze conducted a study of how people view baby ads with 106 subjects. He used eye-tracking technology to measure the direction and duration of the subjects’ eye movements. The image below shows all the eye movements and concentrations. We see that the baby’s face is a major hot spot, but the ad headline and copy get far more attention! Why? We tend to follow the baby. Breeze concludes, “In advertising we will look at what the person we see in an ad is looking at. If they are looking out at us we will simply look back at them and not really anywhere else.”

The neuromarketing takeaway is simple: a face in your ad will attract attention, but be sure the face is looking at what you want the viewer to see! And a baby will act as an amplifier for that very action.






Taken from



[2] Babies create powerful surprise & genuine emotions:

Babies behaving like youngsters. Intriguing! Good for talkvalue, word-of-mouth, awareness. While hopefully getting the message across.

In 2009 Evian made one of the most impactful and beautiful ads banking on this principle:

Results, after a few months only, were as spectacular as the commercial itself:

  • #1 on YouTube
  • #1 on Viral Video Chart
  • World Record for most viewed ad online
  • 61.4m views to date
  • Over 54,000 comments and tweets
  • Over 440,000 Facebook fans

On 09 November 2009, the Guinness Book of Records officially declared Roller Babies to be the most viewed online advertisement ever with 45.2m views.

…and they had done it before, with their “water babies” campaign:


[3] Babies are great at conveying the “need” for your product, implying this happens from early days on.

And logic would say that you can’t go earlier than baby-hood… or can you? YEP, Alpha Romeo proved it with the following ad:












It almost seems common practice for cars  😉


[4] When your USER is the baby, it’s obvious to use a baby … but… then make it a happy one!
A laughing baby sure draws the attention. And as a parent, this is what makes you happy. What do you do? Go buy the product!


If it makes sense to feature a baby in your ad, then do it. If it takes some extra creativity to force fit the baby in, then try it. It seems to be worth it.



Thank you for reading this blog post,

Kurt thumbnail


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