Children: a Good Target Market or an Abuse of Innocence?
Children: A Good Target Market or An Abuse of Innocence? Advertising is a way many businesses attract consumers. Consumers are, after all, their source of income. Billions of dollars are spent every year by corporations to huge advertising companies to think of the next big commodity. However, the most attractive target market today is children, which inevitably sparks controversy throughout the country.
When discussing advertising to children, one should highly consider how the effects the products being advertised pose to children, the status of our countries laws, and the current uses of child advertising and the effect they may have on their audience because we need to think of the children first in order to protect our country’s youth. Many businesses have made the arguable decision in marketing towards children. If the venture is done the right way, it can be a successful form of getting attention to a business.
In the article “Brand loyalty starts from a very early age,” Lou Cooper reveals, “Influencing children at a young age could see them retain their custom in the future” (24). However, if done incorrectly or unethically, youth advertising can be very dangerous and influential to a child in the wrong way. More and more manufacturers and television advertisers think that children constitute an important group for their target market. They see other businesses succeeding when they use the tactic and they believe they need to use it too so as to remain competitive in the industry.
However, television advertising aimed at children is extremely harmful to child development. Over the last few decades, television advertising has changed people’s life styles and buying habits, especially children. Children have larger spending power. With the additional reassurance from statistics and research, more and more manufacturers and advertisers think that a young age group is an important group for their target market.
However, television advertising aimed at children is extremely harmful to child development because of the many harmful and unhealthy things the television is portraying as acceptable and even going so far as to making a harmful product sound attractive and necessary to a young consumer. Television aids the alcohol industry, as well as the fast food industry in spreading the word of their harmful products. The fast food industry is especially taking advantage of their marketing ability, and consumers are paying the price for it, with their health.
According to the film Super Size Me, over the past few years, there has been a doubling of childhood and adult diabetes. Also, in the film Super Size Me, Morgan Spurlock provides the information that more children are having liver abnormalities and are already showing signs of cirrhosis, a clinical scaring of the liver. As stunningly accurate as in Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser mentions, “But the value meals, two-for-one deals, and free refills of soda give a distorted sense of how much fast food actually costs.
The real price never appears on the menu” (9). Thus, the harmful products shown on TV should be highly monitored and perhaps even forced laws upon certain ads to protect the public. The founding laws of our nation have worked for us for centuries. They protect us when is necessary and allow us freedoms when appropriate. Legislators have been able to protect us very well with the constant updating of our laws. Through amendments and many new laws, law makers have been able to stay current with issues at hand.
However, because our country’s laws haven’t taken another modern twist, many children are feeling the consequences. As seen in The United States Bill of Rights, the first amendment to the Constitution is “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press” (US Const. , amd. 1) When creating the law, however, legislators in the revolutionary time period surely didn’t suspect that the safety of children would be at stake when they wrote such a broad and vague concept.
The legislation for advertising to children is minimal, and most advertising companies have free reign to do whatever they want. When a commercial is geared toward children, they find it appealing and some almost comforting. Fast Food Nation’s Eric Schlosser expressed that children are exposed to “30,000 commercials a year. ” Congress has passed laws in the past about setting regulations for the advertising of cigarettes and alternative means of marketing because of their extremely harmful and negative side effects they threaten consumers with.
Certain means of advertising in movie theaters was reviewed and banned; Truthful advertisements are being forced on to cigarette companies. Advertisements in movie theaters would show pictures of a random place and quickly show a flash of a product so people in the audience would need to have it. For example, they would show a large desert and then quickly show a Coke, and a person sitting in the audience would stand up and need to buy the Coke, almost as if they were brainwashed.
Cigarette companies are now forced to put pictures of diseased organs on the box of cigarettes so as to warn the public of their unhealthy and dangerous aftermath and hopefully thwart as many Americans smoking as possible, a much different form of advertising than an advertisement for Paul Mall cigarettes depicting cigarettes to “Guard against throat-scratch. ” When children are exposed to such stimulation of such appealing products, According to Lou Cooper, they have the influence over their parents to utilize close to “1. 88 trillion dollars”, which of course makes children a hefty target, but at what cost? Cooper 24). Advertisers use many forms of marketing to charm children. Phrases and slogans are one example. Many types of food have a phrase associated with them. Commercials use phrases and slogans to embed their product into an audience’s memory. By the time the commercial ends the line and product are stuck in a person’s mind. By targeting children, whole families are then targeted. Competition sparks the creation of phrases and slogans so as to imprint that brand into the minds of consumers. If one company can create a phrase that everyone will know and remember, they are one step ahead of their competition.
Characters are also a way used to target children. Making characters has been the way in which many companies capture the attention of children everywhere. When a child sees commercials on television, the characters are instantly installed in their brain. Prominent figures also bring forth an ethical appeal for children; for example, in Lucky Strike advertisement, Santa Claus is shown with his bag of toys in one hand and a cigarette in the other. When the child witnesses such extreme behavior from the ones they hold dear, they want to be just like the people they admire.
Therefore, children are more likely to buy a product used by their favorite celebrity or character. Toys are another way in which companies target children. Companies give toys to children sometimes relating to their product to endorse their item and entice the recipient to the merchandise. The hope some companies have is that the child will associate their brand with a reward such as a toy and want it more because of the attraction. For example, cereal companies are famous for toy advertisements. If they put toys in the boxes of cereal, children are more likely to want the box with a toy in it.
Pleasing children is a main concern for all big companies. In closing, advertising to children isn’t the best idea when you want to keep the youth of our country safe, healthy, and uncorrupt so as to brighten our future as a nation. The products of some endorsements are mainly those that need to be feared. However, when a child is just as innocent as watching their favorite television show, parents and the children themselves shouldn’t need to worry about what kind of commercials pop-up that try to entice them with that happy meal and those toys.
Children deserve every right to enjoy their time of being care-free and trusting. Childhood is a time for joyful bliss and innocence, not corruption. Works Cited Cooper, Lou. “Brand Loyalty Starts from a Very Early Age. ” EBSCO Publishing Service Selection Page. Marketing Week, 10 June 2010. Web. 02 Nov. 2010 ;http:web. ebscohost. com/src/pdf? vid=3;hid=104;[email protected];. “The United States Bill of Rights. ” National Archives and Records Administration. U. S. National Archives ; Records Administration.
Web. 02. Nov. 2011. ;http://www. archives. gov/exhibits/characters/print_friendly. html? page=bill_of_rights_transcript_content. html;. Schlosser, Eric. Fast Food Nation: the Dark Side of the All-American Meal. New York, NY: Harper Perennial, 2005. Print. Supersize Me: a Film of Epic Proportions . Hart Sharp Video, 2004. “Santa Smokes Lucky Strikes! ” Quit Smoking Painlessly Now! Web. 02 Nov. 2010. ;http://www. quitsmokingpainlesslynow. com/cigarette-advertising/santa-smoking-lucky-strikes/;.