Osmo, a brand of games meant to foster learning for children aged 5-10, has enlisted LeVar Burton to pitch its services.
In the ad, the 65-year-old Burton sports a grey beard and talks of the joys of reading. “It’s a passport to another world,” Burton says, adding that young readers can "make it to the edge of space" by bedtime. “Because reading fuels imagination.”
No problem there. The video announces that Burton is Osmo’s “Chief Reading Officer.” That’s fine, too. But what strikes me as a little off are the visuals of Burton appearing next to mountains of hardcover books. Osmo, as you may know, makes learning games that are played on a tablet.
Yet reading, in the view of this ad, is rooted in the old days of paper-bound books. I too mourned the loss of such books for a while, but about a decade ago, I switched to Kindle books because it was more convenient and cheaper.
Here, the act of reading takes on a fanciful air, sort of like going to the opera or riding an old-timey bicycle. Surely, this wasn’t Osmo’s intent, but I’m not Osmo’s intended audience. For a kid who has grown up with tablets, Burton’s plea for books may seem to make reading seem like something of a niche activity, rather than a would-be universal one.
Here’s an idea for Osmo: In future ads, ditch the books and show kids learning via their tablets, the way Osmo was intended.