Bombing Smurfs for a cause - Don't let war destroy the children's world

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- Out of an idyllic blue sky dotted with birds and butterflies come warplanes that carpet-bomb the Smurfs' forest village, killing Smurfette, leaving Baby Smurf wailing in distress and sending Papa Smurf and the others bolting for cover.

The scene from a bizarre commercial featuring Belgium's lovable blue-skinned cartoon characters is so upsetting it can only be shown after 9 p.m. to avoid scaring children.

Yet it is part of a UNICEF ad campaign on Belgian television meant to highlight the plight of ex-child soldiers in Africa.

"It's working. We are getting a lot of reactions, and people are logging on to our Web site," said Philippe Henon, a spokesman for the Belgian office of the U.N. children's agency.

UNICEF says it hopes the ad featuring the characters -- created by Belgian cartoonist Pierre "Peyo" Culliford -- will draw in donations for its program to aid ex-child soldiers in Burundi, Congo and Sudan.

The 20-second clip is meant to show that war can happen in the most innocent of places, Henon said.

"We get reactions from all over the place," he said. "People are shocked and want to know the reasons behind this cartoon image."

The commercial begins with the familiar image of the Smurfs joyfully frolicking and singing their theme song with birds and butterflies. Then, planes appear and rain down bombs, setting the houses ablaze.

Smurfette is killed and the others go running. Baby Smurf sits crying at the edge of a bomb crater.

The clip finishes with the written message: "Don't let war destroy the children's world," followed by a call for donations.

CNN.com - Bombing Smurfs for a cause - Oct 11, 2005


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