Marketing to children often walks a fine line as far as ethics are concerned, as youngsters are impressionable and their minds are easily molded. However, the market for children is expanding on a near daily basis, as the younger generations hold plenty of influence over the purchasing powers in the household. Television commercials are one of the main ways that marketing professionals connect to children; messages are seen over and over and eventually a child asks the parent to purchase an item that was seen on TV.
It’s important to children to keep up with their peers and today’s marketing tactics have added pressure to the younger generations to keep up with the times in order to appear ‘cool’. According to an article titled “Advertising to children: Is it ethical?” posted on the Monitor on Psychology Web site, the result of marketing to children “is not only an epidemic of materialistic values among children, but also something [psychologist Allen D. Kanner, PhD] calls ‘narcissistic wounding’ of children. Thanks to advertising, he says, children have become convinced that they’re inferior if they don’t have an endless array of new products” (Clay, 2000).
Since marketing professionals are partially responsible for the molding of children’s minds, how important is it for us to practice strong ethics? Promoting items like Bratz Dolls
or the WWE to the younger generations makes one wonder just HOW much influence we, as marketing professionals, have over the upbringing of children and how they shape into adults. It depends on how the whole picture is portrayed; how the product is presented. The marketing professional needs to understand the consequences of introducing such items into a child’s life and needs to take responsibility for what the child learns and feels.
What about junk food? Isn’t it a contradiction marketing such products as sugary cereals and fast food to children but also reminding them to exercise? I am personally appalled by these practices and think such companies should understand that they are literally brainwashing children into eating such products and therefore, becoming addicted to the food. Yes, it is a parent’s responsibility to ultimately decide what their children should consume, but it’s nearly impossible to overcome the subliminal messages found in the media. Parents should NOT use fast food (or food of any type) as a reward for good behavior, because this teaches children to associate food with emotion. Back to the topic on hand, I believe that each of us should take responsibility for the morals we induce on the younger generations. It’s a no-win situation out there as we speak, but as individuals, we can make some changes for the better.
Clay, Rebecca. (2000). “Advertising to children: Is it ethical?” Retrieved November 15, 2008. http://www.apa.org/monitor/sep00/advertising.html