Two new books take kid marketers to task
by Joanne Henning Tedesco —
Although there is no “must have” toy or item these days, more advertising than ever is targeted directly at children. Children are such a niche market that there are dozens of annual conferences dedicated to helping manufacturers market wares straight to kids. One such conference, Kid Power (www.kidpowerx.com), even has subspecialties like how to market food and beverages to children.
Two new books were published recently which explore the growing — and alarming — trend of kid marketing.
In Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture, Juliet B. Schor argues that what marketers say they’re doing (like targeting their ads at children older than 10) often conflicts with their actual practices.
In Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood, psychologist Susan Linn explores the way all aspects of children’s lives — their health, education, creativity and values — risk being compromised by their status in the marketplace.
The authors take the position that marketing efforts directed at children have grown increasingly manipulative and pervasive in recent years — to the point that the industry has begun taking aim at children far too young to understand the ads’ persuasive intent.
With a $15 billion annual market at stake, the kid marketing industry perceives itself as vilified in the books.
Parents are busier than they have ever been, which may contribute to the reasons kids are exposed to so much more advertising these days. Nevertheless, it seems that safeguarding our children’s innocence has never been more important.
Joanne Henning Tedesco is editor of AzNetNews.
Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 23, Number 1, February/March 2005.