Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Why we should market to children

Last week's issue of Marketing Magazine had a great editorial piece from Eric Conroy about advertising to children. Unfortunately, MarketingMag.ca is not a very good website and try as hard as I did, I was unable to find a link to this article. For your copyright-violating pleasure, please enjoy the article as a scan to your right. Just click the pic and it opens in a full size page:

It points out some key considerations about why advertising to younger generations cannot be extricated from their media consumption. Young kids have been reared on a healthy diet rich in internet, television, mobile-and phones, to say nothing of the advertising that they ingest daily on the back of cereal boxes, candy bars, and pop bottles. Essentially, it's difficult to take the position that we should stop advertising to kids when they advertising has allowed them to lead the informed, highly networked lives that we want them to. For example, consider why content is free on the internet - it's a media model (you pay for ad space online). If kids are going to see content online, they're going to see ads. This principle can be applied to essentially every form of content they consume.

But I digress. Conroy's central premise is that the attack on advertisers as venal, despicable coruptors of children's minds actually draws attention away from the real issues of underfunded schools and after-school programs. The same issue of Marketing Mag explains how in April 2007, 16 food advertisers (representing 90% of advertising on kids' programming) banded together to promote higher standards of active living and healthy eating. These CPGs, including Kellogg's, Unilever, Pepsi, Hershey's, and McCain's set protocols for the kind of messaging included in their marketing. Some even stopped marketing to children completely. So if the ad-people are on the winning side, despite what a sluggish and reactive MPP might believe, then what's really the issue being debated???


Issue: Why do I have to parent my children? Can't someone else do it for me?

Yes, the real issue here is that parents cannnot stand to hear their children whine for Gusher's Fruit Snacks and the latest Bratz doll. The real issue is that children are treated like little emperors and have been afforded all the lattitude in the world to participate in the family grocery purchases and consumer budgeting decisions. The real issue is a mass internalization of the feeling that 'why should I tell my kids they can't have something? Can't advertisers just stop marketing it?'

We don't live in Communist China. Stick to your guns, marketers. Placate the parents and educate kids by promoting the right lifestyle values, but making concessions to this pseudo-parenting nonsense is ridiculous.

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