Blog Entry 8: Response to Consuming Kids

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Hi all:

Susan Linn covers a good deal of territory in her book on advertising to children.

Pick what you think is the most interesting quotation from the article.  Type it into the comment box and indicate why you picked it.


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"As a character from the movie High Fidelity says, "What matters is what you like, not what you are like."

I found that this quote was outrageous. A person is not a person without themselves so why should it only matter about what they like? I believe that a person is very important with their characteristics and that people shouldn't be only caring about the materialism of others.
The author for this article has a strong opinion about advertisements aimed at children. I can see how negative the advertisements been to people and it has definitely has effected me in a way, but I believe that she has such a strong view on how advertisements should be taken over. I don't believe that families taking on the power over consumerism by taking away products and electronics will help because we are surrounded by consumerism. We can't escape the consumption, but I believe that there are other ways that we can prevent ourselves from being controlled. I am not sure how, but I believe that we can do it.

"Ten years ago when I asked kids how they saw their future, they talked about what kinds of professions they wanted to have...But now when I ask these questions I find myself listening to a litany of the things that they want to own! It's like the substance of their lives has been replaced by the externals." (pg.80)

This quote portrays a glimpse of the effect that marketing has imposed onto children throughout the span of one decade. The excess of television commercials, radio commercials and ads in every place you look have inundated this generation's children with materialistic wants. With children focused on the desire for material assets they have assessed other aspects of life with less importance. Their dream jobs have been disregarded because they only want to focus on attaining the luxuries associated with a wealthy lifestyle. If children are the future and at such a young age they already display an uncontrollable longing for consumer goods then what can we expect from marketing's future?

"Marketing is designed to influence more than food preferences and choice of clothing. It aims to affect core values such as lifestyle choices: how we define happiness and how we measure our self-worth." (81)

This reminded me of the video we watched and how they sell a lifestyle rather than a product. They don't just sell a car, they sell a mentality and a culture. Consumerism isn't just about producing a reliable product, but a sense of happiness. Children have grown up in a society that promotes a general well-being based off of consumerism rather than moral values. As much as parents try to instill a sense of good ol' fashioned values, the advertisement industry is stronger than ever in getting their products sold to the right audience.

"They're targets for marketers of everything from hamburgers to minivans. And it's not good for them....Every aspect of children's lives-their physical and mental health, their education, creativity, and their values-is negatively affected by their involuntary status as consumers in the marketplace."(77)
"Advertising appeals to emotions, not to intellect, and it affects children even more profoundly than it does adults."(78)
I feel like these two quotes kind of go together and revolve around the same idea. Basically, these quotes state how detrimental advertising is to children. Advertisers attack children with their products nearly incessantly, and because children aren't grown-ups, it shapes their thoughts and ideas in a negative way. Because children can't rationalize and decide for themselves, advertisements think for them. They have a deep psychological affect on them. Marketers essentially raise children as children of the industry, and instill only the values of a consumer. This replaces education, creativity, and intrinsic values in children with value only for material items. Children are affected greatly by the constant advertising they face, in different ways than adults. It's a very negative part of our culture.

"Families are perceived as a repository (the mine) containing valuables that are there for the extracting- and exploiting" (Page 98)

As consumerism grows, it learns to target younger children in order to sell their products. They created a theory called "The Nag Factor", allowing children to continuously bother their parents for a given subject until the adults give in. It has been very successful, especially since many parents simply give in to the ones they love. The battle does not only stand against consuming toys, but foods, clothes, and basically anything up on the market.
I don't like how parents are always seen as the bad guy. Sometimes "no" is a valid answer and children just don't understand that. As a child, you are very narrow minded and learn to only want things. I remember being little and angry at my father for not buying me certain toys. However now I am grateful that we didn't buy any junk that we eventually throw away.
It is very unfair for the children and the parents. Children do not have a choice on whether or not they want something if the commercials or advertisements are always in their face. Parents are obliged to say no from time to time, or all the time, depending on what the child asks for. Many times the child doesn't know what he/she really needs, thus forcing the parents to reinforce their demands on certain goods.

“The phrase ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ may have been overused during the past decades, but its still an evocative metaphor for the argument that caring for our children is a collective effort that has to extend beyond the immediate family. It also reminds us that children’s experiences beyond their own households…can have a powerful impact on their growth and development” (96). Parents are constantly being blamed for everything their child does wrong. In a sense, the parents are responsible for the things their child does, but many do not consider the fact children are influenced by those around them such as peers or the media in general. Every parent wants to be the best parent they can be for their child because their childhood experience does have an affect on them in future. It truly does contribute to their development in to adolescence so no parent wants to deprive their child of the new toy they have their eye on, let alone their happiness in general. That’s why being a parent can be difficult because all they want for their child at the end of the day is health and genuine happiness. It takes a lot of time and effort to raise a child and many people especially those who don’t have kids believe that it’s easy to “just say no” but in reality it’s just not that simple. If everything could be solved by just saying no then there would be a lot less problems in the world. Parents have one of the hardest jobs there is in my opinion; they continually have to battle all the false ads that make children believe can lead to eternal happiness while at the same time being responsible parents. “By encouraging children to nag, and by bombarding them with messages that material goods are the key to happiness, the marketing industry is taking advantage of parents’ innate desire for their children to be happy” (99).

"Advertising appeals to emotions, not intellect, and it affects children even more profoundly than it does adults" (78)

I chose this quote because it points out how advertisments target and take advantage of children. Like the quote states, advertising is emotional. Without the abilility to really think and evaluate what they just witnessed, children are engrossed by the emotion of the ad. They are not capable of waying the risks and disadvantages of a product like adults. Advertisers know this and use this to gain profit. It doesn't seem fair or just to exploit a child's emotions just to sell a product.

“If we could develop a creative commercial--you know, a thirty second commercial that encourages the child to whine…that the child understands and is able to reiterate to the parents, then we’re successful.”(99)
An advertiser’s main goal is to sell a product, so the extent to which they go to, to make that happen is no surprise. Linn condemns advertisers for not thinking about the damage that they can cause between families. What she is saying is very true but there isn’t much you can do about it. When advertisers look at children they merely see another consumer, one that is much more valuable than an adult consumer. Adults can fight the temptation of buying an item that they don’t really need far better than they can resist the pleas of their own children. Advertisers are not concerned about family matters they just care about getting the job done and reaching out to as many consumers as possible. The stress that their advertisements cause on parents is literally the last thing on their mind. Well really it might be the first thing, the more the children nag the more frustrating and stressful it gets on the parents, the more they get frustrated and stressed out the higher the possibility of them giving up and letting the children have what they want. So really the advertisers are just looking at what is beneficial to them no matter what the repercussions are on the parents.

“Parents have cause for alarm. People who highly value material goods (an orientation reinforced by consumer marketing) are likely to be more unhappy and have a lower quality of life than those who value more internal or nonmaterial rewards such as creativity, competence, and contributing to the community” (81).
The fact that children are exposed to advertisements makes it practically unavoidable that they will grow up in a generation that is more materialistic. If children are constantly being shown commercials advertising the hottest toys they should add to their collections, they will begin to believe that they need these toys to fit in with their friends. This type of behavior makes it more likely that as they get older, they will get used to the idea that they should buy what is marketed to them because it is expected. The danger is that people who become too focused on gaining material items can begin to devalue more important things like education because they are too busy looking good, which can only get you so far.

"By encouraging children to nag, and by bombarding them with messages that material goods are the key to happiness, the marketing industry is taking advantage of parents' innate desire for their children to be happy" (99) I found this to be a powerful quote because it says how parents are buying their children these material goods because the parents simply want their kids to be happy.It is the marketing industry that has made the children associate happiness with these products. The quote basically says that the marketing industry has made it so that parents' natural desire to make their children happy involves them buying goods that the children nag them for. I find the quote powerful because parents do not want to say no to their own children because they do not want to see them sad. The quote also shows an immoral aspect of the marketing industry as the prey on children who are very young, and incapable of making their own decisions on what they really want. Children desire what they see on T.V. because they are easily influenced, so whatever is seen on T.V. is what the parents end up having to buy. Which makes me wonder, if what was shown on T.V. was actually good and healthy for children, would the parent be okay with buying material goods to make their child happy? It seems that guilt is always a factor when a parent buys something for a child, but if that guilt is gone, maybe a different kind of parent and child relationship could develop. Overall the marketing industries method of taking advantage of the parents desire to make their children happy is a sad and shameful act.

A quote that I found interesting and ironic as well was "In case you're wondering, the "power" in "Kid Power" is economic, and does not refer to self-esteem, empowerment, or any other remotely pro-child meaning". When you first see Kid Power you think of a witty slogan that children love. You can imagine how children get delighted with a brand name like "Kid Power", but never would anyone view it as an economic tactic. Companies go to conferences(the biggest one called Kid Power)and basically manipulate and receive awards for best luring children in with marketing and advertising. One of the main goals for people working in this industry aim for implanting the idea of "need, want, love" into a child's mind. It is really quite astonishing that people go to great lengths to manipulate innocent minds and lure them into company products. Makes me wonder how many times I got manipulated by these children companies when I was younger.

"The problem is that while parents are trying to set limits, marketing executives are working day and night to undermine their authority" (99).

This quote caught my attention as I have never realized this before. It is so true that, the world tells you to listen to your parents while the world unconsciously contradicts that statement. there isn't much more to this quote than just realization. But with this realization, I move onto different thoughts about parenting; do these marketing executives actually help the parents raise their child by giving them obstacles to overcome. There are so many things that affect the way your child grows and the parenting factor is a major part of it. In a big part of me, I feel that spoiling your child with a set limit is not that bad and it gives your child the "experience" of childhood. The marketers may be the bad guys but they are doing what they need to for this bad economy to flow.

“…New York office of DDB Worldwide Communications – one of the biggest advertising agencies on the planet, with 206 offices in 96 countries” (85). I found this absolutely shocking because so far in class we have only been talking about the United States being a big consumer society. I did not really think or really that an advertising agency like DDB would be extremely influential globally. It is actually frightening to hear how they have offices settled in 96 different countries. The company is so powerful that they even won awards for commercials at the Cannes Film Festival. Their sole purpose is to create ads that will catch the people’s attention causing them to consume various goods. They must be very successful in order to be all over the world. This shows that not only the US has an advertising problem but it is actually worldwide. Advertising agencies are becoming way too powerful if this is really true. Why does an advertising company need 206 offices in almost a hundred countries? Sure, it may be providing jobs but it is brainwashing the minds of others to continue to consume. It is telling everyone on this planet that it is okay to consume, it is okay that they want this and need that, because everyone else in the world is falling into the exact same trap.

"Advertising appeals to emotions, not intellect, and it affects children even more profoundly than it does adults"

As a matter of fact, most advertisements are mainly focused around the youth of today. They are the ones who are watching the most television and are surrounded by non-stop commercials and advertisements and since they don't know how to analyze what they have just seen, they are susceptible to what the advertisement is telling them to do. Corporations use this to their advantage in order to get more profit from the consumer.

"If she's develop-mentally on target, she is also likely to have a tendency to believe what she sees and won't yet understand that the ad is purposely designed make her want the shampoo" (19). I chose this quote because it sort of shows how commercials are purposely manipulative. Products such as shampoos have commercials that show a young girl washing her hair and holding up a bottle, similar to the target audience. Without even knowing, the target audience, even younger, such as a six year old in this case, will want this product. They say that children want to seem more mature with these products. By watching their favorite cartoons, the commercials shown are repeated shown and influence the kids watching it.

"...that telling parents to "just say no" to every marketing-related request that they feel is unsafe, unaffordable, unreasonable or contrary to family values is about as simplistic as telling a drug addict to "just say no" to drugs. (95-96)"

Using my own personal experience, children of this era have grown up with the rise of consumerism. We spent our childhood watching cartoons on TV but also watching the advertisements that pop up in between. Everyone is influenced by the culture of their society and the children of this era have the idea of needing products ingrained into their heads. I picked this quote but it's very hard to say no to a temperamental kid who feels like they need this product, just because society has made us think we NEED these products to be happy. When I grew up, I was constantly asking my parents to buy me the next new thing. When everyone had a cellphone, I NEEDED a cellphone. When everyone had an iPod, I absolutely needed one too! When my parents refused to buy it for me, I threw a tantrum, just like any middle schooler at the time would have if they didn't get a product they wanted. I tried to wear Abercrombie and Hollister, to fit in with the rest of the group. I am just starting to realize that back then I was the epitomy of a youth consumerist. I needed products to make me feel integrated into a group and fit in. My thoughts were influenced by the advertisements for these products. So for my parents to tell me, no you're not allowed to fit in, I felt betrayed and mad my parents wouldn't give me what I want.

"The second has as its first priority the ensuring of product sales: whether or not the values transmitted in the ad, or the products being touted are "good" for kids is secondary at best and often irrelevant"
The quote expresses how selfish and self fulfilling advertisers have been when trying to sell their products. They don't even take into account the well being of children when coming up with commercials and billboards to sell their products. The main motive for these advertisers is that they make money, no matter the kind of impact it can have on these kids. They do manipulative things such as using Ronald Mcdonald to symbolize a figure that kids look up to in order to psychologically convince children to want to go eat at the restaurant. Going to unhealthy places like this excessively can cause many health risks but advertisers don't seem to mind as long as their products continue to sell.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Nick Tingle published on December 29, 2012 11:42 AM.

Entry 7: Response to "Propaganda" was the previous entry in this blog.

Blog Entry 9: Your View of Advertising to Children is the next entry in this blog.

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