Advertising Ethics 2

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One of the most controversial areas of marketing has long been that of advertising to children. Today, advertisers are focusing their ads at younger and younger audiences, many of whom are still in diapers. The reason that adverters are targeting younger and younger children is that they are trying to establish “brand-name preference” at as early of an age as possible. (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2006)

Marketers are now using psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists and behavioral scientists as a way of shaping and cementing a child’s brand preference. (Barbaro & Earp, 2008) These “child experts” draw from developmental psychology principles in order to persuade children that they need a certain product. (Dittmann, 2004) These corporations want to become part of the fabric of children’s lives, through their advertisements and persuasions of brand preferences. (Barbaro & Earp, 2008)

Today, children and adolescents view an average of 40,000 ads on TV in a given year. (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2006) Of those 40,000 ads, more than 7,600 are for the food and beverage industry, advertising items such as candy, cereal, and fast food. (Bakir & Vitell, 2010) In a given day, an average young person is exposed to more than 3,000 ads over a wide variety of mediums. (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2006) Although in the past the majority of advertising has been done on television or through print ads, advertisers are becoming much more creative, in that there are now running games, contests, and events that will attract children, but only have a subtle presence by the advertiser. (Clifford, 2010)

Over the past few decades, advertising has changed tremendously, turning to younger audiences by using new mediums to interact with them, such as “adver-games” on the internet. (Dittmann, 2004) Today, of the 69 million children in America, almost 10 million of them are online. Parents have become concerned with the amount of advertising on kid-based Web sites, which has become a rapidly growing market for corporations. (Austin & Reed, 1999)

Not only are children being targeted in their homes, but advertisements aimed at children are no longer stopping at school doors. Around the country, advertisers have slowly begun to enter school systems. Ads are now appearing on school buses, book covers, in school gymnasiums, and even bathroom stalls. Channel One has also begun popping up in schools around the country, currently being available in 12,000 schools. This educational TV channel provides students with 10 minutes of current event coverage, as well as two minutes of commercials. (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2006)

While today advertisers focus their ads on children, it hasn’t allows been the case. Advertising to children in the United States didn’t become a common practice of advertisers until radio became a commercial medium, in the 1930s. During this time, advertisers would sponsor children’s favorite programs, as a way of reaching them. (The History of Kids and Advertising)

From the 1950s to the 1970s, advertising was much more confined than it is today. (Barbaro & Earp, 2008) The 1970s is when advertisers really started to pay attention to the way in which they advertised to children. (Clifford, 2010) Saturday morning cartoons became the main showcase for advertisers trying to reach children during the 1950s to the 1980s. (The History of Kids and Advertising) In the late 1970s, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) advocated a ban on advertising to children eight-years-old and younger because research showed that they didn’t understand the intent of the advertising. During 1980, Congress passed the FTC Improvement Act, which mandated that the FTC would no longer have any authority to make and enforce rule regarding children’s advertising. (Barbaro & Earp, 2008) During the 1980s, ads began to become a part of the programs, as they refused to be limited to the breaks. (The History of Kids and...
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