Children's Television Commercials: Analyzing The Representation Of Family

2716 words - 11 pages

Children's Television Commercials: Analyzing the Representation of Family

The assignment requires children’s commercials to be studied to find how these commercials are coded to give meaning to a representation of ‘the family’. However, before this can be tackled the concept of representation must be discussed as well as clarifying what exactly is meant by ‘children’s commercials’. The assignment is open to many interpretations as to what constitutes a children’s commercial. A commercial aimed at children, especially young children, must have an appeal to both child and parent alike, as it is most likely the parent who will be purchasing any of the items desired. There is a crucial interplay within commercials between selling the item to the child whilst also selling the product to the parent. When identifying children’s commercials it is advisable to look beyond the most obvious choice of toys or ‘fun’ food to all the commercials involving ‘the family’ which a child may be exposed to. Commercials are specifically placed to gain the maximum exposure to the optimum audience for their product, so any commercial shown during children’s viewing time must have some relevance for a child. Another point to be addressed is how is a child defined. In this essay, the definition of a child from the Oxford Dictionary of Current English is taken in a modified form. The definition is a “young human being below the age of puberty” (1996, 141), but in this essay, because puberty occurs at different stages in different people, a child is taken to be of primary school age. Yet further complexity is added when personal taste is taken into account. A child of five will want very different things than a ten-year-old child, it is hard to judge when music may become part of a child’s life, and exactly what commercials are aimed at which children? These examples of questions are all considerations that must be taken into account when trying to define children’s commercials. The term ‘children’s commercials’ seems, at first, to be a fairly simple and easily understood term but there are many complexities that must be reflected on. This is necessary so that a fuller attempt can be made to answer the question within set boundaries and removing ambiguities.

Any theories and concepts are free of the problems of what children’s commercials are, but the examples taken from contemporary television have to be placed in an understandable context. This gives the examples a point of reference that lends more significance to them because they are not random choices. This point of reference is a temporal one in this essay. The commercials analysed all come from ITV between the hours of 3pm to 5pm. This specific time period was taken because it is advertised as ‘Children’s ITV’ (CITV) and the programming is tailored for children to watch and hence the commercials should be as well. Any commercial within this time period, if it has a representation of ‘the family’ in it, is a...

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