King Tut courts controversy with ‘Talking babies’ ads

Cairo agency King Tut’s Playground has caused controversy in Egypt with one of the most talked about campaigns of Ramadan.

Juhayna’s ‘Talking babies’ went viral, leading to millions of Facebook and YouTube views, as well as the creation of numerous memes, hashtags and remixes before being taken off air by the country’s Consumer Protection Agency (CPA).

Controversy surrounded the use of the word ‘dondou’, which was used as the babies’ name for breast milk. The ads feature three talking baby boys who discuss how they have grown out of breastmilk and have embraced Juhayna Dairy as a sign of masculinity.

In a statement the CPA said: “The first ad for Juhayna Dairy included sexual innuendos in addition to the use of children in violation of the standard specifications for ads. It also promoted false information that the company milk was better than breast milk.”

Shortly after the ban another commercial was released with the word ‘dondou’ beeped out. Following its release the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood filed a further complaint with the CPA on the grounds that it “exploits children and disregards their moral and health rights”.

All six films have remained online.

Mohamed Hamdalla, founder of King Tut’s Playground, said: “Nothing has ever happened like this in Ramadan. This is the first time we’ve worked with Juhayna and our brief was ‘we want to be the talk of the town’. They got want they wanted.

“Juhayna hasn’t been on air in Ramadan for three years and they wanted a campaign – 30-second commercials, low-budget – that was going to own Ramadan. They were not going to be off air for three years and come back with just a normal TV ad. They wanted to own the season.”

Seifeldin Thabet, chief executive at Juhayna, added: “We have lived a controversial two weeks everywhere. In all Ramadan gatherings people were talking about it – outings, social media and talk shows – but the great thing we had was that the masses were the ones who were defending Juhayna and standing up to any media attacks. I can openly say that the mission was beyond accomplished, with Juhayna keeping its heritage and renewing its youth.”

Three other commercials by the brands Birell, Cottonil and Dice were also banned.