I need hardly say it takes a highly emotive approach: "The children of the land would have to live with the horrible consequences" intones the father over pictures of cartoon dogs drowning, "Is there a happy ending?" asks the child in her lisping voice.
The bedtime story is directed at adults, which is just as well as it might terrify a child. But I don't need all this explained to me as if I'm a child. It's a glimpse into the mind of its sponsors: we're unruly, self-indulgent children who need their wise guidance to put us on the path of righteousness.
Taking the advert on its own terms, the message I take from it is: The problem is massive on a barely comprehensible scale and disaster is imminent. The solution, as presented, is laughably inadequate if you know anything at all about the subject. But let's commit ourselves wholeheartedly to this futility: your children's lives are on the line, never mind your cartoon dog's.
It brings to mind a couple of superb paragraphs in an essay by Hans Magnus Enzensburger, the German poet and essayist. They're concerned with the images of disaster in foreign lands that are piped into our homes nightly, but I think they're applicable here:
The theory that our sensitivity to a given stimulus can be heightened by gradually increasing our exposure to it is at best naive. On the contrary, the likely effect will be psychological and cognitive overload rendering the spectator immune to every stirring of conscience. He feels incompetent and powerless; he curls up into a ball and switches off. The message is repelled or simply denied [that word again]. This form of internal self-defence is not only understandable, it is unavoidable...
Beyond this denial lies what a pharmacologist would call the 'paradoxical response' which happens when a substance is used incorrectly or in the wrong dose and has the opposite effect on the patient to that intended. When the oral demands made on an individual are consistently out of proportion to his scope for action, he will eventually go on strike and deny all responsibility. Here lie the seeds of brutalisation, which may escalate to raging aggression.
The quotation is from 'Civil War'. Its concerns are a bit dated as it was published in 1994 but as you can see it contains some stimulating and still pertinent thinking. Hans Magnus is eighty next month. Alles Gute zum Geburtstag!