Child Advertising – The Corporation

To better understand the occurrence of Advertising to Children and its impact, I began by watching The Corporation and Consuming Kids: Commercialization of Childhood. I subsequently did some research to gain more insight on scholars’ perception toward this marketing approach to children of the twenty-first century. I noticed that a considerable amount of content in these papers relating to the documentaries were in support of the claims made in both subject documentaries.

First, I watched The Corporation. This insightful documentary has a short, yet substantial segment dedicated to child advertising. It begins with the commentary on the issue by Susan Linn, a Psychiatry Professor from Harvard University. Her first line in the segment quotes:

“Comparing marketing of yesteryear is like comparing a b.b. gun to a smart bomb.” – Susan Linn

Subsequently, the documentary shifts its focus to Lucy Hughes, the Vice President of Initiative Media. Hughes was the co-founder of the Nag Factor research. In the study, parents of kids between 3 and 8 years of age were asked to record every time their child nagged them, specifying where, when, and why they did. After conducing this study, Hughes proudly exposes the statistic that 20-40% of purchases wouldn’t have occurred without nagging from the children. Susan Linn claims that this study wasn’t done to help parents cope with the nagging of their children. It was to give corporations insight on how to help children nag more effectively.The professor also claims that marketers’ effectiveness relies on taking advantage of children’s developmental vulnerabilities. From a marketer’s perspective, Lucy Hughes justifies that these efforts targeting children at such young age occur due to the marketers’ goal of establishing the loyalty of life-long consumers with these children. They may simply be the children of today, yet they are the consumers of tomorrow. And marketers are well aware of this. Thus, Hughes claims as a marketer that her job isn’t to assess the moral consequences of marketing to children- it is simply to effectively market and promote the product or service through the right media to result in more sales.

The following clip features the Child Advertising segment in The Corporation:

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