Its Just Business: Marketing to Children


My wonderful son, 11 years-old, hollers from upstairs, “Mom. I have an idea.”

“Really, what would that be?” I ask.

He replies, “If you buy me this Starwars Lego Power Function, I can make my Legos move like a remote control.”

I think to myself, just last week he wanted me to buy him some kind of kit to build a remote control tank. Only a couple hundred dollars, he informed me.

The infamous Lego Power Function

It seems everyday I hear, I want, Can you get me, or I need. Where do these ideas come from? They come from companies marketing to children. The Starwars Lego thing he saw in his Lego magazine that he had to have that was in his Lego kit. He goes online and gets Lego ideas and needs more Lego stuff thats available on Lego’s Web site.

Is this concept of marketing to children ethical? Is it fair for them to always feel like they have to have more? Is if fair to the parents who can barely buy groceries?

The answer is that it is just business like any other business. According to Sharon Beder’s article,  Marketing to Children, U.S. spends about $100 BILLION on non-necessary items such as sweets and electronics. According to Beder, children as young as 4 are targeted by advertisers. Ethical concerns center around children’s ability to understand the concept of advertising such as children actually being paid actors and the idea that everything looks cool in an advertisement. My son would see a toy move and fly and to him he thought it would really do that, but he was disappointed when he had to pretend it flew.

Emerging media is a key tool marketers are using to reach children. By using online interactive games or advergaming and online music videos, Apps, and ringtones  companies are communicating and creating a relationship with children. I imagine a company to answer me like this:

Its just business.

So, companies are going to advertise to children just like candy products always have. Who is going to tell the child NO? The company or the parent?


3 thoughts on “Its Just Business: Marketing to Children

  1. As a mother myself, I feel strongly that it is the parents job to tell their children no. Growing up, there were ample opportunities for me to want and I was appropriately told no on many unreasonable requests. I do feel like emerging media offers more ways for companies to target children however. I guess we will need to monitor the trend and see if at some point, further regulations will need to be put into place. Until then, we get to be the meanie parents who must say “no” on a regular basis.

  2. I don’t have children, but I do think that marketer go overboard when targeting young ones. Toys, movies, and clothes don’t bother me as much as junk food; that’s my hot button. Children are very easily influenced and do not know much about nutrition. It drives me nuts that marketers take advantage of this. Take General Mills for example. Their cereal websites provide hours to online entertainment, but not encourage much outside activity. Additionally, their cartoony websites have a red airplane with a white cursive G on the side pulling a blue banner than reads ‘hey kids this is advertising.’ Do children even pay attention to that? And if so, do they even know what it means? Probably not. With that being said, I believe that companies should market to children only if there is a great good that comes with it i.e. promoting exercise.

    What do you think?

  3. This is the same as companies appealing ti women. Such as beauty advitisments photo shopping there models to make them even more beautiful in order to sell there product.

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