Get Them While They Are Young UPDATED July 14, 2009
I want a Graco
stroller, an Eddie Bauer car seat and a Chicco highchair, or I'm not
It is well known that marketing experts have been diligently working to
target ever-younger audiences, but this example seems to be almost a
parody of the genre of youth-oriented ads. It
appeared in the March 2000 issue of Parenting
It is only the most grotesque of the many ways in which such magazines
on parental guilt in order to sell products. Another entire category
involves playing on fears about safety to sell a lot of junk.
Children are increasingly the target of marketing for adult
products, such as automobiles and vacations. The pervasiveness of the
marketing industry's "ownership" (their term) of children is explored
in frightening detail be economist Juliet Schor in her 2004 book, Born
to Buy. I highly recommend it for any parent, grandparent, aunt, or
uncle, as well as any marketing student who still has a conscience.
The problems of over-indulgent
parenting are gaining national attention. See Time's cover
story entitled Who's in
Here? for some amazing examples of the pernicious effects of
to kids - and of parental capitulation.
The documentary film Mickey
Mouse Monopoly makes a strong case that Disney programming not only
brand-loyal young consumers, but also tends to perpetuate dangerous
and sexual stereotypes. It almost not possible to shield one's kids
Disney, but any parent would be well-advised to watch this film. It is
in BSC's Maxwell Library. In the documentary film Affluenza, a children's
marketing expert is heard to say -- without irony -- that "antisocial
behavior" in pursuit of products is "a good thing."
There is, however, hope. Of course the financial crisis has
caused a lot of real hardships, but it has also caused some affluent
parents to reconsider their values -- much to the alarm of marketers
such as those cited above. Thanks to Pam (see below) for showing me the
New York Times article "For
Firstborns, Secondhand Fits the Bill" (July 8, 2009). Some sanity
may be returning to the spending class!
For more general analysis of the interactions
and lifestyle decisions, see Pamela Hayes-Bohanan's Simplify Your Life