Children are the perfect targets for advertisers. They are not only impressionable but highly influential in regard to their parents.
In this lesson, we will explore advertising directed at families. Test your knowledge afterward with a quiz.
Advertising or Entertainment?
You are sitting on the couch with your five-year-old daughter watching her favorite cartoon.
Suddenly a toy commercial fills the screen. Right away she begins to beg you for the toy. Sound familiar? This scenario happens every day to families around the world. Advertising has pervaded almost every form of media – from television to the Internet. And because children under the age of seven have difficulty understanding the difference between advertising and entertainment, your job as a parent becomes more complicated.
Buzz marketing is another way advertisers target children. Buzz marketing is the new ‘word of mouth.’ Based on research data, companies will target young people in an influential community and provide them free samples of a new product. The idea behind buzz marketing is that if the young people targeted are well-connected on social media, they will share their experience with other young people. This expands the advertiser’s reach for minimal cost.
A Well-Known Face
Celebrity endorsements can boost sales of some products tremendously. Well-known athletes or actors can persuade children to jump on the bandwagon because the product becomes associated with the characteristics of the famous individual. Children with great imaginations believe they will develop the athletic skills of a soccer star if they drink a certain sports drink or will be as famous as their favorite television star if they wear a particular brand of clothing.As an extension of celebrity endorsements, character association is another marketing tactic. With character association, advertisers create a fun, cute and likable character that is linked with a certain product.
Take for example the ‘Lucky Charms’ leprechaun or McDonalds’ mascot Ronald McDonald. Advertisers market not just the product but the character tied to it, which further expands their marketing reach.
Advertising in Schools
Finally, advertisers are extending their influence into education. Companies will provide school districts and classrooms with electronic equipment (such as computers and tablets), food contracts, and incentive programs as a means to sell their products to children and their families.
Companies are also willing to sponsor large events for school districts which cuts costs for the school, all while allowing the advertising company access to consumers they may not have otherwise reached.
Advertisers use a variety of methods to target children, from the obvious to the oblique. Pester power involves children nagging their parents until they get what they want. Buzz marketing occurs when advertisers rely on ‘word of mouth’ (particularly via social media) to sell products. Celebrities and characters provide advertisers with familiar faces as well as additional selling points for products. By extending advertising into education, companies can make their product seem necessary to school success, boosting the chances for sales.