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Universal Parks & Resorts ‘Grow Bolder’ / David & Goliath

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Let’s face it: adult life can be dull. We eat food we don’t really like because it’s good for us; we walk and cycle as much as possible because it’s cheaper. We all work 9-5 and come home at the end of the day to collapse on the sofa, and then the next day, we get up and do it all again.


But these are all necessary evils. We all have to earn a living, and imagination doesn’t pay any bills. Kids spend their time daydreaming. Adults have to leave all that behind. Right?


Not according to the latest ad from Universal Parks & Resorts. Fantasising about walking with dinosaurs, or saving the world, isn’t childish in this spot: it’s the most grown-up thing imaginable. Several children are shown finding their feet in a fantasy world. A girl casts spells, Harry-Potter style, while telling her mum she’s ‘ready to stand on her own’. In the next shot, a boy wields a huge gun fizzing with electricity while asserting that he wants to ‘take the training wheels off’. A final shot sees the girl transition from black-and-white fantasy to bright, colourful reality, as she arrives at a Universal resort with her family.


Kids’ adverts are distinct for their bright and upbeat atmosphere, sometimes with cartoons or animated characters. A campaign rolled out by Universal last year followed this pattern, focusing on a similar idea to this more recent ad but communicated in a totally different way. The resort’s various attractions – the rollercoasters, water slides, and Hogwarts castle – are shown as a way to allow kids to grow up, as in the more recent spot, but focusing on excitement and fun. The latest spot is dramatic – almost serious.



The relationship between kids and parents has remained a key part of Universal’s marketing strategy, and with good reason. Parents are a key target market. It’s all very well having kids who are desperate to visit, but the adults who’ll be paying for the trip are the ones who really need to be convinced.


Through this ad, they can imagine their children growing up in a way that feels safe, battling King Kong rather than the less glamorous problems of everyday life. And they’re reminded of the need to let this process happen, because otherwise, as the kids themselves point out, the parents will still be doing their laundry when their kids are 37 and nobody wants that.


This campaign doesn’t focus on the actual resorts as much as previous ads, but it doesn’t need to. The juxtaposition of the very short in-colour segment at the end, after a minute of black and white drama, makes the theme parks look even more attractive than if the whole ad had featured it in colour.


Consumers will be convinced by this point in the ad that a Universal Parks & Resorts Location is the place to go to let their children take their reins, while parents relax in luxury hotel rooms or by gigantic swimming pools, cocktail in hand. The closing shots of the ad tease the enjoyment that awaits on a Universal resort holiday – because as much as this spot is about children growing up, it’s also about children (and adults) having fun, too.