Advertisements penetrate nearly every minute of our lives, and sometimes I wonder just how much children should be exposed to commercialization. McDonald’s has been advertising on report cards, offering the incentive of a free happy meal to those children who succeed in the areas of their grades, behavior and attendance.
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, which really goes against the advertising world as a whole, came down hard on this method of advertising simply because of the association with good grades and bad food. “This promotion takes in-school marketing to a new low… it bypasses parents and targets children directly with the message that doing well in school should be rewarded by a Happy Meal” (Susan Linn 2007). Parents should be able to control what affects their children’s lives, and this type of advertising overlooks that choice.
Children are very susceptible to advertising tactics, and this is a market that IMC professionals need to be very careful with. Schools are supposed to be safe havens for children, and I don’t believe it is appropriate to plaster report cards with ads no matter where the money goes.
“Research shows that children under the age of eight are unable to critically comprehend televised advertising messages and are prone to accept advertiser messages as truthful, accurate and unbiased. This can lead to unhealthy eating habits as evidenced by today’s youth obesity epidemic” (APA 2004). Ethics come into play once again, and rather than marketing for monetary purposes only, IMC professionals should think about the consequences of ads that appeal to younger generations.