Advertising towards children

Topics: Advertising, Infomercial, Television advertisement Pages: 5 (1586 words) Published: November 24, 2013

I can still recall, as a child, waking up early on Saturday mornings and rushing to the oversized, enclosed-cabinet, television to watch the Saturday morning cartoons. Having a bowl of cereal was included in the ritual and most times, it was a brand of cereal that I had seen in a commercial on a previous Saturday morning. When I was a child, I did not see commercials as a nuisance – I looked forward to them. I was entertained by the cartoons and then as a bonus, the commercials filled me in on the latest toys, snacks, cereal, and fast-food places which I immediately had to have. Advertisements targeting children have only increased since my childhood. The ever expanding markets for products and the media assault through advertisements are flooding society with ideas, information, attitudes and imagery which is difficult to control. This onslaught is affecting the young minds of our children to a great extent because entertainment is being intermingled with commercial messages. Adults may be able to create a rational resistance to this, but children may not.

Children are captivated by television advertisements. They react to these rapidly paced, exciting visuals with their appealing music and their determined sales pitch. Television advertisements are a daily part of a child’s life. It expands their conversation and play as they talk to one another using the slogans, and jingles they see in advertisements. It is apparent that almost every advertisement that appears on the television contributes to their vocabulary. Short advertisements are ideally suited to the attention span of even young children that are not yet vocal. Television commercials geared toward children get played so much that many children know the advertisement by memory. Advertisers use commercials not only to grab the attention of a child but also to get tied into the early learning process. The commercials are usually put together as a series of rapidly changing, exciting, visuals to highlight a product. Though the young children may not be able to grasp the full meaning of the scene, the focus on the product leaves enough of an impact on them that they may point it out on a shopping trip. Additionally, feelings of needs and desire tend to sprout at an early age. I recall learning in an early childhood development class that the intensity with which children experience desire and their inability to assign priorities and accept delays in satisfying them is very common. When the urges a child feels remain unfulfilled, the child may grow up with a lot of resentment against its parents. In other words, parents feel guilty when they don’t fulfill a child’s needs and that is why guilt is a very strong selling tool.

For the advertising companies, children are a very attractive target group to be cultivated. They can be a source of pressure to their parents and the parents often succumb to children's demands. In his article “Kid Kustomers,” Eric Schlosser states “[t]he aim of most children’s advertising is straightforward: [g]et kids to nag their parents and nag them well” (224). James U. McNeal, a professor of marketing at Texas A&M University, classifies juvenile nagging tactics into seven categories; a pleading nag which is accompanied by words like “please,” a persistent nag which involves constant requests, forceful nags in which the child acts pushy, demonstrative nags in which the child may throw a tantrum, sugar-coated nags which hold promises for affection, threatening nags which is a form of emotional blackmail as mentioned above, and pity nags where the child will claim to be sad and heartbroken if he or she doesn’t get what they want. Children usually use one or more of these nagging tactics to obtain what they want.

Advertisers use the power of suggestion to sell a product. In the case of children, a company’s advertisement attempts to suggest that their product is the best. Many food companies target...
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