Table of contents
1. Introduction... 1
2. Marketing and Media in children’s media... 1
3. How do children process advertisement?... 5
4. The effect of advertisement on children... 6
5. The role of school and language in educating children about advertisement... 9
6. Conclusion... 12
Advertising can be defined as a means of communication with the users of a product or service. A television advertisement (also called television commercial, commercial, ad or advert) is a message paid for by those who send them and are intended to inform or influence people who receive them. Many television advertisements feature songs or melodies popularly referred to as “jingles,” or slogans which are designed to be striking, memorable and remain in the minds of viewers long after the advertisement. Humour and animation are also often used or included in advertisements (The Economic Times, 2015).
Advertising to children is the act of marketing and advertising products or services to children, as defined by national legislation and advertising standards. It can be done through traditional media (television, radio and print) or new media (internet and other electronic media). Other ways include use of packaging, in-store advertising, event sponsorship and promotions. Many countries have legislation which sets down minimum provisions on advertising to children. In the EU, the EU Audiovisual Media Services Directive sets out several EU-wide rules governing advertising and children. In today’s world which is dominated by consumerist ideology, children are constantly being bombarded by a wide range of advertising and marketing messages, some of which may not contain communications targeted at them. Advertisers use every possible media to get their message across such as via television, print (newspapers, magazines, journals etc.), radio, press, internet, direct selling, hoardings, mailers, contests, sponsorships, posters, clothes, events, colors, sounds, visuals and even people (endorsements) (The Economic Times, 2015). The aim of this paper is to examine what effects television advertising may have on the consumption choices of children.
2. Marketing and Media in children’s media
The American Marketing Association defines marketing as “an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communication, and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit an organization and its stakeholders” (American Marketing Association as cited in Calvert, S.L., 2008). Advertisers use the “Four Ps” of marketing: product, place, price and promotion in paid public presentations of goods and services in a variety of media so as to influence consumers; attention to, and interest in purchasing the advertised products, goods or services. For many years, television has been the staple of advertisement to children and youth. It is estimated that children view up to 40,000 advertisements each year. Popular products marketed to children include cereals, toys, fast food restaurants and candy. The use of online marketing and advertisement for children is also on the increase (Calvert, S.L., 2008). Table 1 below shows a list of some television and internet marketing techniques. The rapid growth in the number of television stations and online venues has given advertisers more opportunities to market directly to children. Since children are heavy media users and early adopters of newer technologies, many media marketing and advertising campaigns using both television and newer media are efficient pathways into the lives and homes of children. Although television remains the preferred option for reaching children, other options being explored include cell phones, iPods, game platforms and other digital devices. Internet pages now feature banner advertisements, which look like traditional billboard advertisements but market a product across the top of an internet page.
Marketers use a wide variety of techniques to attract audiences, including children in order to increase product purchases. Traditional marketing techniques in television (and internet) advertisements include repetition, branded characters, catchy and interesting product features, celebrity endorsements and premiums (free merchandise that accompanies a product). Others include product placement, in which a product is placed within program content so that it does not seem to be an advertisement (Calvert, S.L., 2008). Recently, advertisers have begun to experiment with new techniques. One of these is called Stealth advertising in which marketers try to conceal the intent of an advertisement. This is because it is believed that advertising is most effective when consumers do not recognize it as advertising. It is mostly used online. Marketers and advertisers who practice stealth advertising usually use the viral (word-of-mouth) marketing, embed products within the program’s content, allow children to interact with online characters who represent and promote specific brands and disguise advertisements as video news releases. The overall aim is to create or enhance branded environments that foster user loyalty. Some of the television and internet marketing techniques employed by advertisers include repetition. This involves repeating the same advertisement over and over. It is based on the idea that familiarity with a product increases the likelihood of purchasing and using the product (Calvert, S.L., 2008). Attention-getting production features are designed to attract children’s interest and grasp their attention in advertisements. Such features which are usually heavily concentrated in children’s advertisements include action and movement, bright and colorful scenes, sound effects, rapid pacing and loud music (Calvert, S.L., 2008).
Table 1: Television and Internet Marketing Techniques: Definitions and Use patterns.
Source: Calvert, S.L. (2008). Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Sandra_Calvert/publication/49852129_Children_as_Consumers_Advertising_and_Marketing/links/0912f50c200139e398000000/Children-as-Consumers-Advertising-and-Marketing.pdf
Many successful marketing campaigns and advertisements use premiums and branded characters, that is, media characters that are associated with a company or product and promote its brand name that appeal to children. Examples include the animated character Tony the Tiger which is a spokesman for a specific product, Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes. The rights to use popular television cartoon characters such as Nickelodeon’s Sponge Bob Square Pants are also licensed for a fee to various companies in an attempt to produce advertisements that appeal to children. The Ronald McDonald character is used to sell the McDonald’s brand including Happy Meals. These characters are used to increase children’s interest in these products (Calvert, S.L., 2008).
Celebrity endorsements refer to the use of celebrities in advertisements to help sell products. For instance, popular athletes are depicted on cereal boxes and appear onscreen wearing and using specific products. Children who like and admire these celebrities are expected to purchase these products (Calvert, S.L., 2008).
The technique called product placement was first recognized in Steven Spielberg’s 1982 movie that led to a 66% increase in product purchases. In television programs and movies, brands are either used by characters or even become characters such as Charlie the Tuna. This helps to increase a consumer’s familiarity with the product. In another form of product placement, websites put the logo of their sponsors on the page. Any visitor to the page therefore spends time with the products. Online games are also used by marketers for product placement. Advertisers have developed advergames, online video games with a subtle or overt commercial message in which the use of product placement is common. In advergames, advertisers ensure that users’ eyes are on the embedded advertisement, know how long the user is engaged with the brand and can track the exact behavior of the user. For example, in the arcade-style basketball advergame called Live the Madness, when players run over Coke cans their performance is enhanced: the can run faster or dunk the basketball. Its implicit message is that Coke will make you a better athlete (Calvert, S.L., 2008).