The Advertising Industry: Targeting Youth Essay

1853 words - 7 pages

Our culture is plagued by rampant consumerism. Today’s view of the ultimate reason for human existence is the purchasing and owning of stuff. The idea is that whoever has the most stuff is the best, and from that we form our base of what it means to be an American. As corporations are placing greater emphasis on brands and icons, children and teens are the easiest prey to target. The average American child spends more than five hours in a single day sitting in front of either the computer or television screen while being constantly bombarded with advertising. Promotional campaigns and commercial messages permeate most waking hours of a child’s or teenager’s life. The overwhelming underlying message that advertising sends to children and teens is that material things make a person, and it is not about whom you are but what you own. This is the message that children are being sent almost every second of everyday in America. This message will be the message that they will believe in when they reach adulthood and the affect of this will be grave.
Kids are bombarded with advertisements from every possible source: billboards, posters, TV commercials, websites, movies, radio, and more. Today children are able to distinguish brands as young as preschool age. Studies have shown that six-month old babies can visualize corporate logos and mascots while the average three year old can recognize over one hundred different brand logos (Underhill 158). Toys have even begun to carry product placements; for example, Barbie dolls carrying Coca Cola sodas or Lay’s Chips in their hands. Marketers spend at least fifteen billion dollars a year targeting children alone (Underhill 157). Although children have no income they play a vital role in the marketplace because they greatly influence parental spending. In 2008, households spent up to two billion dollars online for children’s toys, and an average of two hundred dollars per household. American children between the ages of eight and fourteen now have a combined annual purchasing power of forty billion dollars (Underhill 150). In my Advertising for Kids paper I discussed the practice of accommodating children’s needs in stores by lowering shelves and widening aisles so that they could easily access certain items they find attractive. Another example I used was banks installing play areas or having distractions such as coloring books to keep children from bothering their parents during valuable purchasing time. One factor I did not think of was companies using this practice to keep the child coming back which creates customer loyalty at a very young age. For example, if a young child remembers having an enjoyable time at PNC bank then they will feel their needs were taken care of and continue to behave when mommy and daddy take them next time. Thus, as the child ages they will remember their childhood bank and be more inclined to hold a bank account there. Another strategic marketing tool that was not mentioned in my...

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