Advertising to Children
October 10, 2009
Advertising plays an important role in business and in society. With advertising comes social and ethical responsibilities, this is especially important when advertising to children of all ages. Although a child’s age cannot be defined universally, The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization states early childhood is zero to eight years old. Advertising law defines the age of a child will vary by jurisdiction, but the age of twelve is a common cut-off age. It is at this age that children have developed their consumer behavior to be critical and have the ability to understand what is being advertised to them. “More and more children are becoming the sole decision makers about the products they consume” (Arens, Schaefer & Weigold, 2009, pg.40). Children are watching more television today than they did years ago, and because of this, they are viewing more commercials. These children are capable of remembering ads on the television regardless if the product is a toy or a product targeted for the adult audience. “Young people view more than 40,000 ads per year on television alone and increasingly are being exposed to advertising on the Internet, in magazines, and in schools” (Strasburger, 2001). Advertisements that are geared towards children have been debatable and presumed the influence on children’s consumption, with that in mind the rules and guidelines on advertising to children have changed and evolved more in recent years. “The commercial media pump out a continuous stream of gimmicks and clever sales initiatives to entice the unsuspecting pool of youth that form the gaming culture of today and the adult shoppers who are willing to buy toys, cereals and lunch boxes as the cost of a child's entertainment” (Steinberg, Parmar & Richard, 2006, ¶ 3). When turning on a television program made for children, they do not expect that by watching the program, they are a target for advertisers. Children's television is thought of as entertainment and education, not consumerism. Advertisements, in general, are steady through television as well as plenty of other mediums. Advertisers, as well as marketers, attempt to make children connect products with their environment. An example is Barbie™ and the child being able to pretend with this toy what they perceive with this doll what they would like to be when they grow up or how about the Kool-Aid™ commercial where all the kids are having fun while drinking this sugar-laden drink. It is while children are watching cartoons or other programming that they are seeing a lot over what they realize. Adverts flash in between children's programs so seamlessly that young children cannot separate the commercial from the program. “Children only gradually come to understand that commercials are trying to sell something “(Grossberg, 1998). It is this inability that is the marketing strategy in advertising towards them. Brand recognition is an important factor in advertising and is no less important when advertising to children. When companies market their logo in their advertising campaigns and on their packaging they are making their presence known. It is not only adults but children as well that know that the "mouse ears" stands for the Walt Disney Company or that the golden arches represents McDonald's. This type of icon brand recognition is superior in the way of advertising. Create a logo and stick it in children's minds and you have an almost definite sale, this is also proven in the older children in way of fads. There was a study completed by Dr. Tom N. Robinson, Stanford University’s associate professor of pediatrics. This study, which involved 63 children ages three to five years old, had these kids taste the exact same McDonald’s food, wrapped in branded and un-branded packaging. Every time, the food in the un-branded...
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