Advertising Research Papers Example

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Family, Children, Advertising, Brand, Age, Business, Products, Industry

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/12/21




Advertising is a multimillion dollar industry and is affecting the life style and the needs of people. Consumerism is considered to be a direct result of advertising and it plays an important role in the significant rise of the industry.
In US a child is exposed to too much advertising and marketing, on average a child watched about 16K ads in a given year that may or may not be targeted towards them. However, children are the most easy and eager consumer rising concerns for parents and psychologists across the globe. Stats show that food and beverage industry is the most active player in the advertising industry and the massive food chains primarily focus on the families especially the children in the age group of 2-15 years. As shown in the following chart, the food beverage industry treats children as their primary audience and the fact that the advertisements are gaining attention is proven by the increasing sales in the fast food industry.
Figure 1
This paper discusses the various aspects of advertising for children, especially the question is it ethical to advertise to children of that age group who are clearly incapable of making responsible decisions. The paper will also carry out literature review to find out what are the responsible ways of advertising for children and how is it being carried out currently.

Consumerism And Children

According to psychologist Allen D. Kanner, who deals with young children mostly, describes that excessive advertising is affecting the children’s personality as it is creating narcissism among them as it is leading to the perception that if they do not get everything shown in the ads they are lagging behind. This attitude inhibits materialism among these young minds. The stance can be proven by the fact that the book “The Kids Market: Myths and Realities” that states that children under 12 years of age spend more than $28 billion through their parents. These companies target children through effective use of child’s psychology and understand the vulnerable mind of these young minds.
Director of the Campaign for “Commercial-Free Childhood”, Susan Linn, believes that there is justification whether ethical, moral or social to advertise anything directly to children. On one hand while they cannot make an informed decision on the other hand children are more valuable towards celebrities or fictions characters thus they would choose a product not for its value but for the celebrity endorsing it. Since marketing and advertisements target emotions and somehow train the audience on how to feel about a product.
Experts believe that children are targeted for two main reasons, firstly children can influence their parents to spend on certain products/places secondly children are the decision makers of future and developing attachment to a brand at this stage can be highly beneficial in the future.
Advertising is not limited to television ads, in fact it covers endorsements through magazines, TV shows and through internet. Stats show that children spent more times exposed to ads and promotions as compared to that spend in school. As the trend of smartphones and handheld devices is growing the average time spent exposed to advertisements is even more than that. Television advertising covers 70% of the total advertising and without doubt influences the most. Advertisements focused on children are mostly aired with their favorite characters and in between the peak hour shows to gain attention even more. Many brands have gone a step ahead in making kids club to get closer to the children and connect with them through mailing lists and events. These clubs gain more information about the consumers and thus can directly promote products on an individual level. Similarly internet based advertising is even more targeted and children focused websites capture personal information about these young consumers without notifying them. Children are less likely to understand the criticality in sharing personal information and do so easily.
It is a known fact that children cannot understand persuasion of ads and the actual reality, in fact for the most part children cannot easily distinguish between ads with their favorite characters and actual shows. Considering this fact, it seems unethical to use these children’s favorite characters to persuade them emotionally into buying the endorsed product. A study by university of Missouri stated that most children surveyed for the study did not understand the intent of advertising and believed that the children or characters in the ads were in actuality using this product.
Different countries have different regulations regarding the limitation of advertising to children. While most of the European countries such as Quebec, Norway and Sweden completely restrict marketing to children under 12 years of age, on the contrary US has the least restrictions on the advertisement industry. Somewhere in the middle UK has defined responsible advertising targeted towards children. For example when targeting children under twelve for marketing the brand cannot make the child feel inferior if not using that brand by suggesting that they lack courage, smartness or are less likeable. Similarly those rules also indicate that the ad cannot encourage children to force their parents for buying the endorsed product.

Effects of advertising in real life

The above discussion discusses the expert opinions on whether advertising to children and minors is appropriate or not and why is it unethical to market a brand to someone who is known to not be able to make any responsible decisions. The influence of massive advertising targeted towards children is often referred as commercialization of childhood as the children now dictate most brands in households. While one aspect of it’s the growing materialistic needs among children on the other hand they are becoming independent at a very young age. Most households have and provide handheld devices such as tablets to their children and encourage using apps designed for children. Children the future consumer of the technology market are adopting it faster than ever and it is reported that 58% of children use/own a tablet. Children are using these devices for various our purposes including games, movies, tv shows and apps. Each of these activities capture information related to the user to promote ads specifically according to their demographics and history. This trend has resulted in binge shopping among the children through their parents. This can be proven by the stats published by BBMG, GlobeScan and SustainAbility in 2013 that showed that the consumers accepted that 78% shopped not due to their needs but due to their love of it. Among these 48%shoppers were parents with kids under 17 years of age pointing to the fact how children’s preferences are driving the shopping trend now. The survey also reported that eight of ten surveyed consumers said that they feel excited to buy new things advertised and believe that certain companies are better than others based on their advertising. This implies to the fact that the person endorsing a brand in an ad has a huge emotional impact on the viewer and in case of children that impact multiples even more.
The following sending trend among children also shows how marketing and advertising are raising materialistic children. The trend report shows that children under age of ten years spent more (54%) on what they want as compared to only 11% on what they actually need.
The main factor behind this sending spree is the complex of being inferior to others of the same age. The prevalence of advertisement in schools and all around children is influencing them to buy more and prove to be the stereotypes as promoted by the ads. Most TV shows and ads stereotype children as being smarter if they use their brand, this aspect pressurizes children more to be able to be viewed as smart and acceptable.


The most effective audience of food and beverage industry in US are the children of age 2-11 years of age. Clearly the children of this age are least likely to make the right decision for themselves. Most of the ads targeted on children use emotional aspects to attract them such as showing happy family times and their favorite celebrities or characters endorsing the product or brand. The downside of this is that the child chooses the product because of the endorser and not due to the brand itself. Experts believe that since the children do not understand persuasion and intention of advertisements thus it is unethical to target ads towards them. However the trend of advertising to children has paid off to the brands as most spending in US on food and beverage industry is influenced by the children. Most brands are targeting children to not only influence them to spend on the brand through their parents but also to develop a future consumer. Brands are using the emotions and feelings of young minds to sell their products in household while the children do not even understand what they are being used for. Irresponsible marketing to children can instil inferiority complexes and materialism in children that could affect their personality.


Beder, S. (1998). 'A Community View', Caring for Children in the Media Age. New College Institute for Values Research, 101-111.
CLAY, R. A. (2000). Advertising to children: Is it ethical? American Psychologist Association (APA).
FELONI, R. (2013). American Children See 253 McDonald's Ads Every Year - Twice The Number Of Other Fast-Food Brands. Statista.
Watson, B. (February 2014). The tricky business of advertising to children. The Guardian.

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