Child Advertising – The Corporation | Promotional …
Is advertising to children ethical? - Quora
On the other hand it is believed by some advertising experts that the greatest influence in advertising happens in choosing a brand at the point of sale.
CHILDREN AND ADVERTISING the european dimension
Are the relatively unspecific rules in the UK enough and does legislation in Greece go too far? Most European consumer organisations call for strong limitations of commercial activity directed at children. Out of the 15 EU countries, only 4 (France, Ireland, the Netherlands and the UK) do not consider advertising aimed at children as harmful, and Spain alone considers a ban on advertisement undemoratic. The present move to harmonise legislation in this area on a EU-wide basis raises a number of issues concerning how far legislation should go.
One argument in favour of little regulation is the educative aspect of exposing children to advertisement.
Children's reactions to advertisement can be very different from grown-ups. If adults see a product advertised and don't find it when they go shopping they forget about it. As children develop the ability to recognise and understand ads and their purpose they start making demands. If these demands are not fulfilled they might start screaming or throwing themselves to the floor. It is difficult to explain to young children the reasons why they cannot have everything which - according to advertising - is 'for them'.
Research by advertising agencies has confirmed that children's personal preferences can be targeted and changed by TV advertising. Family dynamics are thus influenced by advertisements that create demands and provide children with arguments why they should want a particular thing; this can make life extremely difficult for parents who for financial or moral reasons refuse to comply.
Swedish public opinion considers advertising to children 'not fair play'. Besides the ban on advertising to children under 12, the law prohibits displays of sweets in shops within reach of little children and stipulates that attention must be paid to problems that could arise when parents queue up.
Are Swedish children thus cheated out of their chance to develop critical sense in relation to advertising? And will they be less able, when they grow up, to deal with the disappointment of not possessing everything they see advertised?
It would seem to be fairer and more sensible to start educating children about the commercial intentions of companies at an age when they can rationalise and are no longer predominantly motivated by emotions. Expecting children to learn about advertisements before that age would seem to be rather futile as well as creating difficulties for the child and the family.
There is another aspect to the 'educational dimension'-argument which raises questions. For, even once children have 'developed critical sense' in relation to advertisements, they are still being subliminally influenced by them. If adults, who have had years of practice in seeing through and being able to deal with ads, could not be swayed in their decisions to choose or buy products then no company would spend millions on advertising.
Research has confirmed the influence of the media upon the close conformity between children's tastes and perceived needs and the content of the programmes they watch. Teachers say they know what has been on TV the night before by the games the children play the next day.
Research carried out by the Independent Television Commission has found that the effectiveness of advertising increases when the ads are shown in between or around programmes aimed at children, or when children perceive an advertisement to be made 'for them' as, for example, with toys or breakfast cereals.
If the subliminal effects of advertisement were not officially perceived as a danger, attempts would not be made to promote a healthier diet in England by prohibiting ads which 'encourage or condone excessive consumption of any food, ..depict situations where it could reasonably be assumed that teeth are unlikely to be cleaned overnight, ...or encourage children to consume food or drink especially sweet sticky foods near bedtime' (ITC rules on food advertising to children, 1995).
What would be the sense of prohibiting advertisements in which children climb up to shelves, are shown near an open fire without a fireguard or play 'irresponsibly' near water (ITC rules) if it was thought that they had no influence?
An important point in this connection is the fact that in 9 out of the 15 EU countries enforcement of the rules on advertising to children is felt to be inadequate ['Children and Advertising', Bureau Europeen des Unions de Consommateurs, 1997]. In the UK, for example, criticism has been levelled at the ITC for not carrying out systematic monitoring and for ineffective sanctions - there are no fines or obligations for corrective advertisement.
Even where enforcement is considered to be effective, problems arise with TV stations transmitting from other countries which are not legally subject to the regulations of the receiving county.
Thus we have a situation where the need for regulation and the danger of the imitative aspect of advertising to children is generally acknowledged, but where regulations are rarely fully enforced.
Furthermore, children are, on the one hand, deemed to need protection from bad examples while on the other hand, they are allowed to be exposed to the commercial intentions of companies who use the latest research to target and psychologically influence children to their own commercial gain.
This influence, additionally, goes quite a lot further than just trying to persuade children that they want or need certain products.
Education in consumerism
Advertisements today are not so much about the products but rather about the character of the consumers and how they should feel when they use or possess the advertised product. Messages to children are all about the happiness, social status or success which accompany the possession or consumption of a certain toy or type of food.
Advertisement research found that the media can isolate and shape children's preferences for different toys, TV characters, life styles, subcultures, etc. at different ages. Advertising proved to be particularly effective if these preferences were then fed back to them in the ads. A double reinforcement of values takes place, where children's preferences are formed by the media and presented to them again in advertising. Children who are exposed to a lot of advertising are thus educated about a particular lifestyle: they are educated about living in a consumer society. They learn certain attitudes - the importance of money, what products are needed, how they are to be used and how products are supposed to make them feel.
Allowing business interests and economic criteria to determine what children are exposed to when watching ads will undoubtedly have some effect on their future outlook on society.
The freedom of expression
In Spain a ban on advertisement is considered undemocratic.
Would the prohibition on tobacco advertisements be seen as equally undemocratic since tobacco companies are legally prevented from using TV advertisements to convince people that damaging and perhaps fatally damaging their health is a cool thing to do?
Advertisement does not potentially kill children, but the question remains what particular freedom would be lost, and what disadvantage incurred, if children were not exposed from an early age to TV advertisements directed at them for the commercial gain of companies.
After all, the companies certainly do not have the children's moral or social well-being in mind; they are solely concerned about profits.