We live in a world where advertising is everywhere.
It’s on our screens, on the tubes and buses, in magazines and on the TV. It has so much power over our opinions and decisions- but what does this mean for our kids?
385k babies are born each day globally; this is a fresh group of potential consumers popping up every year for advertisers and brands to market towards. Similarly, once someone welcomes a child into their lives, they too slot into a new marketing persona. Kids and their caregivers are hot opportunities for many brands, so it’s no wonder so much is spent each year on advertising to this market.
"During the pandemic, online advertising dramatically accelerated..."
The global spend on digital advertising in the babies and toddlers sector is growing each year. In 2018, $4.2 billion U.S. dollars was spent on this type of advertising, which rose to $4.6 billion U.S. dollars by 2021. These are huge figures which are only set to grow further in the coming years.
During the pandemic, online advertising dramatically accelerated and made traditional advertising methods, such as bus stop posters and radio ads, less popular. This is simply reflected by the amount of time consumers began to spend online, and many brands tapped into this opportunity to reach new potential customers.
Marketing is playing a significant role in our purchasing decisions, otherwise, the industry wouldn’t be booming like it is. I can certainly think of a few adverts that I have been swayed by. But to what extent does online advertising impact our decision-making? And should we be focussed more on the impact that advertising has on our children?
Critics of advertising say that marketing aimed at children can lead to a whole host of ills, from obesity to poor impulse control. Children are impressionable; they don’t have the life experiences to understand the nuances between what fast food companies or the government claim as healthy, and what we as their parents think is a suitable diet. Even among my mom friends, we have differing opinions of what we should be feeding our children.
"Critics of advertising say that marketing aimed at children can lead to a whole host of ills..."
Yet children are going to be exposed to advertising their whole lives- is it worth teaching them about the impact of advertising from a young age?
The ethics around marketing towards children raises a lot of questions. Should we shield our children from Mcdonalds’ adverts? Should their lives be filled only with images of healthy eating? Should we keep our children sheltered from advertising until a certain age or attempt to reduce the potential impact it can have on them?
Perhaps the underlying argument behind these thought-provoking questions is whether the advertisements are the problem or is it the products they are advertising.