Monday, May 16, 2011
Ready, Aim, Fire: Targeting the Little Ones
by Cotrell Loftin
Before they can even speak a proper sentence, children begin to watch TV. In this case, children are defined as those being twelve years and under. From a young age they are bombarded with ads and imagery. They want the new toys, gadgets, and food they see countless times every day and sometimes every hour. Taking advantage of this fascination, advertisers heavily target these young people to increase profits.
According to the Media Awareness Network, it’s children who have the true spending power. They whine for a new toy and beg for new clothes. In an effort to pacify their children, parents cater to their every cry. Sometimes parents who work full-time and are not able to spend a lot of time with their children buy them things to compensate. Therefore, it is more profitable and more effective strategy to target children than adults because adults have more incentive to buy products to keep their kids happy.
Advertisements are not solely the thirty second spots aired between segments of a television show. They are also seen in the shows themselves. Product placement has been a growing strategy to spread the name and popularity of products. Burger King and Mountain Dew took advantage of the sequel to the popular Men in Black movie.
One of the more effective and successful kinds of product advertisements is for fast food. In a report from the Loyola Los Angeles Law Review, it is stated that fast food advertisements make up the majority of advertisements that air during programs that have a large audience of children. For their experiment, researchers watched two hours of programming on Cartoon Network and they found that one food commercial aired every six minutes.
In all, these advertisers are mostly portrayed as evil, money hungry, and exploitative of children. There is not much evidence of advertising toward children being positive, or for products that are healthy. Those that do exist are not as popular as ads for unhealthy products and therefore do not reach as big of an audience as those of brands such as Burger King or other junk foods.