Of course advertising (especially TV advertising on children’s channels) manipulates children. It gives them a serious case of the “gimmes”, much in the same way as playground pressure does when a classmate smuggles in their latest Game Boy Advance or must-have toy.
To suggest that advertisers “will have to ensure they target the market without exploiting it” (“Would you credit it?” MW May 23) is more than a tad insincere, coming as it does from a leading UK marketing publication. Good marketers always find ways to exploit, and thus maximise, markets and children are no exception.
Let’s face it, children are smart and focused. They operate on a basic level of getting what they want, while weighing up if they can get it.
One way round this is the unthinkable idea that parents can simply say “no” to their darling offspring’s demands. Granted, this is hard in a retail environment when character merchandising and offers spring out from every aisle. However, I find this novel approach pays high dividends in dealing with street-savvy and pestering children.
So, let’s park the rhetoric and self-justification. Marketers will continue to use all their ingenuity to sell to children. Children will use all their powers to cajole their parents into buying things for them, and governments in the end will decide where the boundaries lie. Any marketer out there who believes that self-regulation and concerned debate in the trade press will protect them from their excesses has got to be one ad short of a campaign, or seriously naive.