Children and the Effects of Advertising
This article “Lunchbox Hegemony” written by Dan Cook explains in detail about child capitalism. The author really goes into detail about how hungry advertisers are in order to sell their products to children and to parents for the children. The author makes some very valuable points. He makes the point that when parents and their children enter a store and the child picks up an item or two, odds are the parent will buy this item/s because of the “nag factor”. In Douglas Rushkoff’s article “A Brand by Any Other Name” he states that marketers spend millions just on developing strategies to capitalize on children’s vulnerabilities. Which seems like it’s worth the money because it works. Another interesting point made by the author Dan Cook is that per the Better Business Bureau, businesses aren’t allowed to motivate children to nag their parents. However, Cook also explains that corporations aren’t 100% at fault for making kids so geared into blank –faced robots; parents play a major role as well. As long as parents are giving into their children’s demands, there will always be that repetition occurring; children having an enormous purchasing power.
If you ever taken you children, nieces, nephews, or observed any child for that matter in a store, the first thing they run to is either the aisle with toys in it, or the children’s section. Most of the time parents have no choice or don’t even mind taking their kids along to these types of stores but sometimes it can become WWIII. According to Cook (2001), “Officially marketers refer to the annoyance factor as children’s “influence” on purchases; unofficially, it is the “nag factor”” (p. 100). I have to agree with the “nag factor” label. What I suppose the author is labeling, is when a child takes a toy or item to their parent/s and present it to them with begging and whining for them to purchase the item is considered by marketers by the “nag factor”. I’m guessing that everyone in their life time has had or heard a child whine, beg, or cry because they want you to purchase an item/s for them. Children may play the sympathy card if it’s around their birthday or Christmas time. You may shoot them down about two or more times, but it seems like we all give in once in awhile because we’re tired of hearing the constant irritating. These types of behavioral trends are not healthy for children. If their so used to whining to get their way when their children, chances are they’ll probably grow up doing the same thing but worse. Such as talking back to their parents, or sculling their parents; telling them their not good parents because they didn’t give into their demands.
Children are very inexperienced when it comes down to knowing what’s good and what’s bad from the things they see on television and are easily influenced over what they hear and see. This is categorically what advertisers want. According to Douglas Rushkoff’s article “A Brand by Any Other Name” he states that “Marketers spend millions developing strategies to identify children’s predictions and then capitalize on their vulnerabilities”. (2000, pp 107-108). They do a good job predicting what children may want to see their product/service does. This is a good idea for marketers to make even more than what they put out, but in the long run their deceiving children. Usually the message in ads targeted toward children only show how grand their product is or what the product can do for you. For example, advertisements for snacks, candy, and cereals always show how cool it is if children are eating or drinking their particular product and how popular they’ll be but they never state that eating too much sweets can and will lead to cavities, obesity, etc. Moreover, all children see is something that may taste good or something that will make them become cool.
Another point that Cook (2001) makes is that “Businesses are discouraged from explicitly inciting children to nag their parents into buying something, according to guidelines from the Better Business Bureau” (p.100). Thank god there are some guidelines to this vicious game of advertising. If businesses were able to use this advertising tactic, there would be so many children getting into trouble. This is why stores create sections dedicated just to kids. So when children go into these sections, everything that businesses want them to buy are at eye level and at arms reach. I would refer to this advertising strategy as silent targeting. Advertisers doesn’t have to put up “how-to-nag” signs, everything is already in place. So when the children goes through these sections, and are able to reach these items, the first thing they do is run to their parent to pled for a purchase.
Parents are partially to blame for the child-consumer epidemic. Most parents are so busy wrapped up with their own lives to spend more time with their children, they see that buying video games, etc. to keep their children busy as an easy alternative to get some piece of mind. Cook states that “Children consumers grow up to be more than just adult consumers, they become us who, in turn, make more of them” (2001, p.101). What the author means is when parents just give into their child’s demands all the time to keep them “quite”, the pattern continues once their children becomes parents and so on. What the parents do with or to their child/children can, overtime, rub off when their child/children are raising their own.
Overall, the author has made some very valid points in referring to the “child-consumer”. The world we live in today seems to only revolve around materialist, name brand items. Unfortunately, our children are victims of the advertising world. I think it’s a shame that our children think their personality can be expressed through materialist items. However, I don’t forecast any change for the future. Children have an enormous purchasing power, both straightforwardly and obliquely (obliquely in the sense that they are able to persuade and influence parents on what to buy). As long as parents are giving into their child’s demands, there will always be a repetition occurring.