Over 10 billion dollars is spent on fast food advertising to children annually in numerous fashions. The majority of these ads are for food and drink that is high in fat, sugar, calories, salt and low in nutrients. Its not as much the advertisement itself as much as it is the tactic used to entice our children to want their product. The most obvious media venue is television advertisement. The marketing gurus know how to get into childrens heads and how to get their most wanted response. They know that children can and do influence their parents when it comes to food purchases.
On an average children view over 40,000 commercials a year most of which are for candies, cereals, toys, and fast food restaurants. Fast food advertising to children is not only limited to fast food restaurants. If it is fast and it is food then it is fast food. Its fair to say that fast food advertising is big business. Additionally, trying to curtail children from television viewing is a daunting task particularly since many kids have televisions in their bedrooms. The methods used for advertisement are within the norm for advertising. Businesses spend money to get their product noticed by what should be their target audience. In other words, you’d be hard pressed to find an advertisement on 60 Minutes for Cocoa Krispies just like you’d be hard pressed to find an advertisement on the Nickelodeon Channel for T.D.Waterhouse.
Children today have more purchasing power, they are the consumers of tomorrow, and because they do influence their parents on purchases it opens a whole new audience for marketers. Children are much more vocal than they used to be and they are not afraid to speak up when they want something. Advertisers call this Pester Power. I call it nagging. In other words, kids aren’t afraid to kick and scream to get their parents to buy something. Fast food advertising to children is all about Pester Power and marketers rely on children to nag the parents rather than market to the parents directly. They know that marketing to children will net higher results. Marketers break Pester Power down into 2 categories. Persistence nagging and importance nagging. Persistence nagging is begging repeatedly. Importance nagging, on the other hand, is what marketers rely on. This is all about providing for their children and the guilt that comes with not being available enough for their kids. There are many tactics used in fast food advertising to children such as toys included with meals and monopoly game pieces. Fast food businesses will claim that this is to provide a more pleasant visit to their store for the parents but in reality it is baiting children to desire fast food.
Internet And Viral Marketing
Fast food advertising to children is not only limited to television. The internet; which is more cost effective and viral marketing have also become advertising venues. Internet marketers know how kids use the net and how popular sites such as MySpace and Facebook are. They also know that children love to click on links. If it says click here – they do. Many websites offer free ring tones and music downloads. In order to get the freebie an e-mail address is required and thus cross promotion campaigns begin creating fast food advertisement to children via e-mail marketing.
We can’t stop fast food advertising to children but we can control the television viewing time. Less time in front of the television as a family could reduce the pestering for fast food and create a more nutritious and healthy family environment.