Part of our reading list this week was to watch a collection of public information films from the 1970’s titled Charley says. Each short film follows a scenario of a possibly dangerous situation involving a young boy and his wise cat Charley who warns about the danger by caterwauling. Each film ends with a simple and effect ‘Charley says… always tell your mummy or daddy where you are going’ ect message.
The Charley cat character is especially effective for the kids audience because children relate more to him, and do not feel like they are being ordered by an adult, therefore children are more likely to take heed of the message. Also, there is a distinct lack of written slogans in the adverts which make it accessible to children of all ages and abilities, although I was struck by the lack of background music or jingles which are often used to make a message more memorable in modern adverts aimed at children.
The simple animation style of flat, muted colour is much dated by now but such a style fitted in with the other cartoons of the 1970’s. For the most part, the messages still resonate today and children are still told ‘not to trust adults who say they are going to show you puppies’ whereas other messages like being careful of hot pans on a stove might be better replaced by a kettle or electrical hazard to be more relate-able in the modern day.
These short information films are an interesting alternative look at the short movie format.