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One giant TYNKYN walking around handing out nifty pamphlets
Three well dressed roving surveyors asking questions and
out BND envelopes (pamphlet, gift-free voucher, articles)
WHAT DO KIDS REALLY WANT?
Attacking the "Best" in Kiddie Ads
Jennifer Bleyer, Alternet.org
September 14, 2000
September 14 -- A spread in Advertising Age, the industry's primary trade magazine, shows a
grainy picture of an inquisitive preteen girl. "Who Am I?" the copy asks, suggesting the girl's
existential coming-of-age dilemma. But the next page tells us exactly who she is: "I am the Internet
generation. I am spending billions each year. I am building brands right now." Then the kicker:
"And I am here for you."
the prospect of millions of kids handing over a chunk of the $400 billion
they represent in
annual sales has corporations salivating to the tune of $12 billion a year in advertising and
marketing. Over three hundred industry professionals showed up in New York this week to
discuss the finer points of roping in this highly lucrative market at the "Advertising and Promoting to
Kids" conference, an annual event sponsored by Toronto-based KidScreen.
conference had participants from heavy-hitter advertising firms like Ogilvy
and Leo Burnett listening with perked ears to seminars like "Ethnic Marketing: It's Not So Niche!",
"Marketing in the Classroom" and the astonishingly blunt "Guerrilla Marketing: How to Get Street
culminated on Thursday with the Golden Marble awards, which recognized
best in advertising to kids -- "best" meaning ads that best "educate, inform and entertain" according
to official conference jargon, but in reality seemed to be those that best yield the coveted "pester
power" which keeps kids nagging and parents buying. Big winners at the Golden Marble Awards
included Leo Burnett, which won two golds and four certificates of merit for spots on Kellogg's,
McDonald's and Nintendo, and other firms for their campaigns for Gatorade and Kids Foot
the ceremony, vocal protesters were demonstrating against the non-stop
machine that was appluading itself inside. A coalition of health care professionals, educators, media
activists, children's advocates and parents who hailed from as far away as California, Alabama,
Chicago and Boston had come together as the newly formed Save Children from Advertising and
Marketing (SCAM) Project. SCAM believes that the average American child's media diet of forty
hours a week, including 30,000 television ads a year, spells dangerous brainwashing for the kids --
and red-handed guilt for the advertisers.
for many years a tacit understanding that children ought not to be bombarded
commercial messages," said Mark Crispin Miller, professor of media ecology at New York
University and outspoken media critic. "There were certainly a number of television shows geared
toward children but they weren't about selling products. In today's climate of rampant deregulation
and hypercommercialization, the fact is that these companies and advertisers are engaged in a huge
propaganda exercise whose sole purpose is to raise corporate margins. Anyone who's really
concerned about what they call family values really ought to be directing attention to this trend."
expressed particular alarm over the early age at which advertisers now
kids, mentioning industry reports that proclaim children as young as 18 months psychologically
available for marketing.
kids, the world is what they see, and they can't distinguish between an
ad, a TV show
and reality" said Nancy Carlsson-Paige, professor of education at Lesley College and mother of
screen actor Matt Damon. Carlsson-Paige cited research showning that until the age of seven,
children cannot differentiate between commercials and shows. "All they see is something colorful to
watch, so they're desensitized to ads before they even learn to put them into context. That's what
we need to get people dialoguing about."
issue which got its due amount of flack from the SCAMers was the explosive
advertising in schools. This most recent foray into childrens' consciousness has plastered virtually
every waking moment of their lives with ads, as marketers push products on the sides of school
busses and in locker corridors, arrange profitable contracts between schools and soft drinks
companies, and put free Channel One televisions in classrooms in exchange for compulsory
commercial broadcasting. Alvin F. Poussaint, an organizer of the demonstration and professor of
psychiatry at Harvard Medical School called these tactics "nothing less than an invasion of the
hearts and minds of our children, convincing them that who they are is what they buy."
only a few days after the Federal Trade Commission issued its report concluding
entertainment industry intentionally markets violence to children, demonstrators said that the report
only revealed the tip of an iceberg. Although the contribution of violent media to violent behavior
has been confirmed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, it is not alone as a social ill with
commercial origins. Childhood obesity has been linked to excessive television viewing, for instance,
and eating disorders in girls have been correlated with exposure to fashion magazines and
unrealistic beauty standards in the media.
set forth recommendations for protecting children from the ravenous chops
marketers, including a White House conference on the effects of corporate marketing on children,
a system of uniform age-based ratings across all movies, television shows, video and computer
games, and careful federal regulation of all marketing to children. Crispin Miller took it even further,
suggesting that we need a 'hands-off' policy like Sweden, which bars all advertising to children.
that children are too young, too impressionable and have far better things
which to occupy their minds than advertising," he said. "It's a shameful enterprise, and certainly
nothing to give awards over."
Kids and Commercialism - Center for a New American Dream
WHAT'S WITH ALL THOSE BRANDS?
INTERVIEW: ACTIVIST NAOMI KLEIN ON HER BOOK "NO LOGO"
"What Nike has been so successful at is turning its
brand into a celebrity, into a pop culture icon. It has very little to
do with the product itself. It exists almost in the same stratosphere as
the athletes that sponsor its product..."
-- Naomi Klein
TORONTO - Branding is taking up more and more of our public space. Logos are on billboards, televisions and computers. Even our bodies have become the backdrop for corporate advertising. Naomi Klein sees a backlash brewing to all this branding and she's written about it in her new book, No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies.
Brent Bambury: This is the week that the Youth News Network starts beaming its program into Canadian classrooms. It's a television program that will be aimed at kids, but one that will have advertisements in it. What's wrong with that?
Naomi Klein: Well, a big part of what's wrong is that the schools that sign the deals don't have any choice but to air the programs. Even if the individual teachers decide they don't feel the program has an educational value, they have to air it.
Brent: You see this as one of the last spaces in our society, in our culture, that's not branded, that doesn't have a billboard waiting to be covered up by the next logo.
Naomi: I think as soon as the schools are branded, and
in many ways it's already happening... So many schools already have exclusive
deals with Pepsi and fast-food joints in the cafeteria and textbooks with
placement in them. In a sense it contributes to this idea there's no space left.
That's a powerful idea. I think, particularly, for young
people. It contributes to this feeling of global claustrophobia, to a feeling
that there's no escape. I see that as leading to a growing militancy. We
saw glimpses of that in Seattle where there was direct hand-to-hand combat
with these corporate brands and bricks flying through windows. I think
it has to do with this feeling of there being no choice, no space left.
Schools are in a sense the last bastion. Once that's gone, there'll be
no space left.
Brent: The corporations know what they're getting. They know they're getting advertising time with a captive audience. They know what they're doing when they brand our culture, whereas we're not aware of the fact that these corporations have a lot of influence in our life.
You talk about Nike in this book. Nike is a shoe company that is determined to unseat pro sports, the Olympic and even star athletes, to become the very definition of sports itself. Did they succeed in doing that? Is Nike bigger than the Olympics? Is Nike bigger than sports and amateur sports?
Naomi: Well, in many ways it is. What Nike has been so successful at is turning its brand into a celebrity, into a pop culture icon. It has very little to do with the product itself. It exists almost in the same stratosphere as the athletes that sponsor its product, as the teams, and it has to do with this idea of branding which someone like the CEO of Nike decided in the mid-80s, he said, "we don't want to be a shoe company anymore. We want to be a sports company. We want to get in the game."
That sounds like marketing babble. In fact, it means, in a sense, rather than sort of hitching a ride on sports and our traditional understanding of marketing and sponsorship, he's actually in competition with sports. They're in the same game now.
Brent: But there also is a synergy here between many, many people that make products. You know, Nike leads to Michael Jordan, which leads to the movie Slam Dunk, which leads to Warner Brothers. And any number of tie-in products from fast-food organizations and that kind of thing. But really what you're looking at when you talked about claustrophobia earlier, you're looking at a culture that is supplanting whatever culture we used to have and is also making it very difficult to escape.
Naomi: A lot of us are cynical about professional sports. When it's applied to music it becomes more troubling, and when it's applied to schools, I think it's most distressing. I believe that same process we see with Nike unseating pro sports we're seeing in the schools. It's not just about getting your ad in schools. It's actually more and more about sort of turning brands into the subject of education.
Nike has even developed, a course curriculum called Air Two -- I forget. They build a shoe in class, and they learn about recycling and all of this.
Brent: But it's actually commercial.
Brent: I want to talk about the people that are doing something. You mention the WTO protest. That shows there are people saying, "Wait a minute, now, in a global world we want a say. We know we're being shut out." Adbusters, culture-jammers, who you profile in the book, can they stand up to a huge global or multinational corporation and make them back down?
Naomi: Well, I think that change is already happening. It's happening in less direct ways. Nike is still, obviously, in business, still a popular company. But its stock prices have suffered, its sales have suffered. More importantly it's actively changed some of its policies to respond to the criticism of its labour practices.
Brent: How do you bring the global economy down to the level of the neighbourhood you live in? How does this affect the way you deal with Starbucks? Do you say we don't shop at Starbucks because--
Naomi: Particularly when I talk to young people, there
is this mounting frustration. If you tell students something
negative about Nike, then they're, like, "okay, well, I'll go buy Adidas." The truth is it's impossible to really change the world by our consumption habits. I actually think it's really an ineffective way to change the world.
Brent: You have to act globally. You don't act locally, then?
Naomi: You can do both. The more important thing -- it's
become a cliche. We've all heard the statistics that
corporations are becoming as powerful as governments. What's happening now that is so crucial is we're saying,
okay, if you are as powerful as governments, then we'll treat you the way we treat our governments. We're going to demand accountability, we're going to demand transparency. It's not so much about whether we're buying your products, but whether your policies are going to be subject to the will of the citizens.
Brent: Now, it would be easy to say -- I can imagine a corporation saying, we don't care. But you have somebody from the John Hancock company in your book saying it can take 100 years to build up a good brand and 30 days to knock it down. That's powerful.
Naomi: Very powerful. In many ways branding is the Achilles'
heel of the corporate world. The more these companies shift to being all
about brand meaning and brand image, the more vulnerable they are to attacks
Brent: Looking forward to this year's advertising at the Super Bowl?
Brent: Interesting book. Thank you for talking to us.
Naomi: Thanks very much, Brent.
Hi. I'm doing a study on shopping habits. Would you answers 3 short questions for me?
1. DO YOU PLAN ON BUYING SOMETHING TODAY?
2. WHICH STORES DO YOU PLAN TO VISIT?
3. WHAT DO YOU THINK INFLUENCES YOUR SHOPPING HABITS MOST?
(ELABORATION: FLASHY ADS? POPULAR BRANDS? OR WHAT SOMETHING COSTS?)
2. ANY REASON WHY NOT?
3. WHEN YOU DO BUY SOMETHING, WHAT DO YOU THINK INFLUENCES
YOUR SHOPPING HABITS MOST?
(ELABORATION: FLASHY ADS? POPULAR BRANDS? OR WHAT SOMETHING COSTS?)
Thank you for your time. I really appreciate it. (SLIP THEM THE ENVELOPE.)
CREDENTIALS: SOCIOLOGY STUDENT, FIU.
VISUALS: box and charmer are iffy at best.