If SpongeBob Told You to Jump Off a Bridge…

March 6, 2009 at 4:56 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Chances are today’s youth would do it. And their parents would sue SpongeBob.

There are some staggering facts and figures floating around about the ethics of marketing to children. An article by Miriam Zoll tells us that “recent studies have shown that by the time they are 36 months old, American children recognize an average of 100 brand logos.” Another study published in 1991 found that “by age six, Old Joe (who was the face of Camel Cigarettes) is as well recognized as Mickey Mouse.” A study released in 2005 by the Institute of Medicine states that “advertising influences what children under 12 eat” and that spokes-characters are “being used to manipulate vulnerable children to make unhealthy choices.”

I mean, seriously. Way to go Old Joe. This is obviously your fault.

I mean, seriously. Way to go Old Joe. This is obviously your fault.

Companies have advertised to children for decades. In the 1990’s kids knew who Old Joe the Camel was, they knew what he was selling, but we didn’t have an onslaught of seven-year-old smokers. Why? Because our parents taught us that smoking was a bad decision, and it was a bad decision we weren’t allowed to make until we were grown-ups.

To be honest, I don’t know that many people my age who are smokers. We were exposed to cigarette ads, we watched people smoke in restaurants and bars, we knew who Old Joe was by the time we hit kindergarten… but for the most part, we turned out ok.

Now, here’s where it gets interesting. Parents of young children have formed coalitions against marketing junk food to children because it’s directly causing the children to become obese. The scary part is that there actually is an epidemic of childhood obesity in this country. Is it because food companies came up with a few jingles and hired a guy in a furry costume to dance around during their commercials?

No way.

It’s the parents’ fault their kids are obese. Even if kids are exposed to messages from junk food companies on a daily basis- they should be exposed to messages from their parents on daily basis about healthy eating, getting some exercise, not doing drugs, not drinking….you know, the things we all heard from our parents when we were growing up.

I think it’s about time that parents take a more proactive approach when raising their children, and stop blaming

But Daddy, I want it now!

But Daddy, I want it now!

every problem they encounter on advertising and big corporations. Parents need to realize that they can actually say no to their children (but seriously, tell your 8-year-old he’s NOT getting the $200 iPhone). Parents today seem to be under pressure to constantly please their children, but that’s not their role. Their role is to raise responsible, well-balanced people. Doing so takes discipline and perseverance, and telling your child “no” when need be.

Here’s one other staggering fact about today’s children, as reported by the Kaiser family Foundation: the majority of young people say their parents don’t impose any rules on them regarding their use of TV, video games, music, or computers.

Maybe that’s the problem?


“Separate but Equal” Campaigns?

February 26, 2009 at 12:01 pm | Posted in Campaigns | Leave a comment
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Marketing to minorities: ethical or not?

When I first started thinking about it, I had no qualms with a company creating a separate marketing campaign to target minority groups. The “Me Encanta” campaign from McDonalds seemed harmless enough, translating slogans and catch-phrases into Spanish and featuring Hispanic men, women and children in their advertisments. They have a different culture, so why not celebrate that in a McDonald’s campaign?

Well, the problem lies in the fact that when a company creates a campaign around a specific ethic group, they are in a sense segregating them from the rest of Americans. Is it: They’re Hispanic, they have a different culture than White Americans, they need a different campaign designed for them. Or, is it: Let’s celebrate their culture and speak to them in a way that they will appreciate.

I think there is a very fine line drawn here between celebrating and honoring the diversity in our country and furthering the separation of minority groups from the rest of America. Many students in my class have suggested the use of “culturally senstive professionals” to oversee these sort of campaigns to make sure they are not offensive in any way. During a time when the minority populations of America continue to grow at an increasing rate, I think this is an exceptional idea. Having someone on staff that would be able to communicate which ideas perpetuate stereotypes, and which actually speak to the members of the minority communities would be invaluable.

I’m interested to hear your opinions on this topic. What do you think?

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