Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Television Advertising & Indian Urban Children: An Introduction

Advertising, ‘the hidden persuader[i]’, ranks fifth amongst the big businesses of the world (Chunawalla & Sethia, 2003)[ii]. Advertisers use advertisement for many purposes with many different possible effects. However, what guides the producer-manufacturer-corporate establishment to use this mode on consumers is the persuasive power of the medium.

Through television, we learn new behaviours as the result of perceived needs. NIKE and Lexus went from perceived as luxury items to needed items through advertising. Apparently, men now must have big screen TVs and women want constantly to buy shoes. At least, this is the message given out through advertising.


In addition, the way in which we buy products has changed. For example, there is a MasterCard commercial that shows a woman walking down the street impulsively buying on credit, and receiving a feeling that the end result is: Priceless.
Skills and knowledge have changed by television advertising immediate communication and awareness. Many insurance companies advertise their internet sites online, which can be used to raise awareness. They are not alone. With the instant communication age, we advertise the necessity of consumer awareness.
In addition to immediate obvious advertising, there is also the influence in television shows. Take the evening news, which often focuses on consumer awareness. Take comedies, which show various brands of soda used in a household, implying that everyone worthwhile drinks that brand. Take dramas, which show women crying into Ben and Jerry's after the tearful break-up. Our needs and wants have changed. We no longer decide for ourselves that we want products or how we want them. Instead, we allow television to teach us, since after all, if it's on television, then everyone must be doing it, and it must be true.
For many children, advertising media is a normal part of life. Anderson et al (1986)[iii] had raised a serious concern over time spent by children and young ones using or watching the television being upped to between 20 and 30 times greater than the time spent associating with their family The latest trend, due to working parents and nuclear structure of the family, indicate that children in the United Kingdom and the United States may, on an average, spend between four and five hours a day, outside school time, watching some forms of electronic media (Cooke, 2002)[iv]. This exposes children to much potentially harmful material. Kunkel (2001) suggested that today’s children in the United States may view more than 40,000 advertisements every year. The huge number advertisements on television mean that many children spend a significant proportion of their lives watching advertisements. Unfortunately, there is no such authentic data available from Indian-Sub-continent on television viewing habits of urban children (even for metropolitan cities!).
Recent developments in advertising for children indicate a developing tendency of marketers and advertisers to employ some form of animation in children's television advertising. This helps them to catch children's attention during commercial programming. The technological advancements, especially in computer graphics, allow a greater flexibility, variability, and creativity in the elaboration of advertisements. On the other hand, the practice of taking advantage of the improvements in computer animation and special effects seem to suggest that marketers may be experiencing an increasing challenge to capture children's attention. They are therefore compelled to be even more creative, requiring new and improved ways of reaching them, particularly because children of the 1990s grew up accustomed to technology, consumer electronics, and video games.
Commercially crafted words and images promoting from unhealthy foods to toys and commercial vehicles confront today’s child wherever the child may choose to turn, in fact even the commodities & services like paints & distemper to vacations that children cannot directly need are targeted at them in hope that they may act as pressure group for parents. Advertising messages designed to capture children’s imagination, appear on television and radio, on the internet, at the cinema, in comics and magazines, on food labels and even at school. Whilst most parents and many medical, health and education professionals endorse Government advice that consumption of fatty, sugary and salty foods only infrequently and in limited quantities, food advertising targeted at children portrays these unhealthy foods as attractive food choices.
The food sector, as other goods manufacturers & service providers recognise television as a particularly powerful advertising medium, which reaches tens of millions of children and adults on a daily basis. Some European countries, most notably Sweden, recognise the need to protect children from commercial pressures created by television advertising and have well-established controls to ensure that advertisements are not targeted to children under the age of 12 years.
The ‘problem’, in today’s media dominated society is that children advertising industry aggressively seeks to understand, anticipate, and influence the perceived needs and desires of young consumers. Because marketers have taken an increasingly disciplined approach to market research, they have gained a wealth of information about children. Successful marketing relies on correctly representing customer lifestyles and making products relevant to their lives. A range of advertising styles, techniques, and channels used, reach children and youth to foster brand loyalty and encourage product use. Some approaches are market segmentation; television advertising; sales promotions at schools, stores, and sporting events; multimedia exposure; celebrity endorsement; kid’s clubs; product placement; and advertorials. In addition, retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers, the media, schools, and corporate donors are creating mutually beneficial partnerships to gain access to, and capture the attention of, young consumers. One of their long-term goals is to develop a market for tomorrow’s adult consumers.
Present Advertising Aimed At Children
Advertising hardly a recent human endeavour dates back to as early as ancient Rome and Pompeii. Town criers were another early form of advertising. As an industry, advertising did not take off until the arrival of the various mass media: printing, radio, and television. Nevertheless, concerns over advertising targeting children preceded both radio and television. The British Parliament passed legislation in 1874 intended to protect children from the efforts of merchants to induce them to buy products and assume debt.
Targeting children as consumers, however, did not become commonplace until the advent and widespread adoption of television and grew exponentially with the advent of cable television, which allowed programmers to develop entire channels of child-oriented programming and advertising. Opportunities to advertise to children further expanded with the explosive growth of the Internet, and thousands of child-oriented Web sites with advertising content have appeared in the past few years (Report of the APA Task Force on Advertising and Children 2004)[v].
In most western nations, the authorities try to protect children by establishing age limits and ratings. However, all children and their parents do not always understand the ratings, or they tend to belittle their value.
The term ‘Television’ has come to refer to all the aspects of television programming and transmission as well. The medium, similar to any contemporary communication means, is a link in the living rooms like a magical bridge opened to the world. Television, however, is perhaps the most influential form of media as a primary storyteller. Research on television viewing and children's socialization indicates that television has a great impact on children's lives (Lauer & Lauer, 1994)[vi]. Studies have shown that preschoolers spend nearly 30 hours a week watching television; they spend more time watching television than they spend on anything else except sleeping (Anderson et al, 1986; Kaplan, 1991; Aulette, 1994)[vii]. Nielsen Media Research[viii] has found that by the time children are 16 years old, they have spent more time watching television than going to school (as cited by Basow, 1992)[ix]. As a result, by extremely conservative estimates, children are exposed to about 20,000 advertisements a year (Stoneman & Brody, 1981)[x].
The pervasiveness of marketing to children is of particular concern because of their inherent vulnerability to commercial persuasion. Children under the age of eight do not recognize the persuasive intent of ads and tend to accept them as accurate and unbiased (Kunkel et al. 2001)[xi]. Kunkel et al, also, found that a 30-second commercial can influence brand preferences in children as young as two years old[xii].
Advertising has been shown to have a harmful effect on children’s health. For example, research shows there is a link between advertising and childhood obesity. The majority of ads targeted to kids are for candy, cereal, soda and fast food (as cited by www.commercialexploitation.com/what_we_do.htm, generated 03/06/04)[xiii]. As Brian Wilcox, Ph.D., former chair of the American Psychological Association Task Force on Advertising and Children said that “uch advertising of unhealthy food products to young children contributes to poor nutritional habits that may last a lifetime and be a variable in the current epidemic of obesity among kids” (American Psychological Association press release, 23/02/04)[xiv]. Further, many of these advertising and marketing campaigns use popular children’s television and movie characters, thus making the ads more appealing and interesting to children. As the Kaiser Family Foundation report, “The Role of Media in Childhood Obesity,” concludes, “(I)t appears likely that the main mechanism by which media use contributes to childhood obesity may well be through children's exposure to billions of dollars worth of food advertising and cross-promotional marketing year after year, starting at the very youngest ages, with children's favorite media characters often enlisted in the sales pitch”( Kaiser Family Foundation, 2004)[xv].
Indian Advertising Scenario
Advertising has a medium to heavy concentration in India, which is only bound to get heavier. In India, the advertising business is growing at the rate of 30 to 35 percent. The advertisement expenditure, from 1997 in the country rose from 850 million dollars to roughly 5 billion dollars by the year 2000. The year 2005 end registered advertisement expenditure of well over 10 billion dollars.
“Advertising started to grow at a phenomenal rate of 40% and more after ‘liberalisation’. Then recession set in. In 1998-99, the industry grew by 17.9%, with 12 of the top agencies zooming up by more than 20%. As compared to the usual 4-5% growth rates in the West, these are very respectable figures. As compared to the rest of Asia, the growth rate is miraculous” (Chunawalla & Sethia, 2003)[xvi].
Television advertising in India has undergone a rapid change over the last few years. Today, it reflects technological advancements in its sophistication and can match advertising efforts in many parts of the world. Children comprise a major portion of any TV audience, a fact that is capitalised by advertisers. Knowing them to be a captive audience, advertisers direct their advertisements specifically at them and through them at their parents. The children are easy prey to the hard sell, the flashy images, and the repetitive images that embed messages into their receptive minds. If allowed to continue unchecked, advertising in India may soon reach the stage of abuse and manipulation as witnessed in the US.
Review of Literature
Throughout the history of children's television advertising, researchers have criticized in different ways the use of television commercials directed towards children. By the 1970s, the criticism generally fell into two categories:
The persuasive nature/function of advertising and the possible hidden messages believed to be part of the advertisement, and the specific content of the advertisement per se (Winick et al. 1973)[xvii].
Winick et al. (1973) argued that while advertising directed towards children stimulated their materialism and consumption, it also encouraged conflicts with their peers and parents for the same materialistic issues. They further advocated that, because children have not yet fully developed reasoning abilities, they are unable to evaluate the conveyed message, which could contain non-rational or unrealistic information that could be deceptive. Children, therefore, should be protected from advertising.
Investigations on the content of children's television advertising grew in importance after the genesis of television advertising directed to children (Alexander et al. 1998)[xviii] in conjunction with the development of marketing to children during the 1950s (McNeal 1987)[xix]. Content analysis was the research methodology generally employed to explore the environment of children's television advertising. Albeit content analysis was a relatively new methodology for consumer research in the 1970s, it was already broadly used in other research areas such as political science, journalism, social psychology, and communications research (Kassarjian 1977)[xx]. Unfortunately, no such extensive study has been undertaken in the Indian context. However, some journalistic works exist but serious study is conspicuous by its absence.
Though serious research into children’s consumer behaviour dates back to the 1950s with the publication of Brand Loyalty (Guest, 1955)[xxi] and Careers and Consumer Behaviour (Reisman et al, 1955)[xxii], it was in the 1960s that children as a consumer market was recognised. The recognition was due to researchers expanding their scope of inquiry to include children’s understanding of marketing and retail functions, influence on parents in purchasing decisions (McNeal, 1964)[xxiii], and relative influence of parents and peers on consumption patterns (Cateora, 1963)[xxiv]. These pioneering papers were largely responsible for establishing the topic of children’s consumer behaviour to a marketing audience, presenting empirical methods and data pertaining to children, and communicating results in mainstream marketing journals.
However, it was around the mid-1970s that children-consumers related research gained currency in the marketing community. In 1974, Scott Ward published his article “Consumer Socialisation”, where he argued forcefully in favour of studying children and their socialization into the consumer role. The author defined consumer socialization as “processes by which young people acquire skills, knowledge, and attitudes relevant to their functioning as consumers in the marketplace” (Ward 1974, p. 2)[xxv]. Today, researchers have explored a whole plethora of topics reflecting child’s as a consumer, knowledge of products, brands, advertising, pricing, decision-making strategies, and parental influence and negotiation approaches. In addition, the social aspects of the consumer role, exploring the development of consumption symbolism, social motives for consumption, and materialism have been examined in detail.
The role played by television in moulding children's behaviour as consumers has been widely documented in marketing literature. Osman & Aliah Hanim (1987/88)[xxvi], for example, asserted that their sample of children from the urban district of Petaling Jaya were able to recall unaided a wide variety of brands for snacks, clothes, toothpaste and soft drinks as a result of their television viewing patterns.
Frideres (1973)[xxvii] concluded from his study findings that television tended to create desires for toys among small children. He further posited that television advertisements might not affect all children directly. Instead, informal communication between children tended to also create needs in an indirect manner. Robertson, Rossiter and Gleason (1979)[xxviii] have also found some support for a direct link between exposure to medicine advertisements and a child's beliefs, attitudes and requests to parents regarding medicine.
Behavioural studies generally focus on the extent to which children are persuaded by advertisements. More specifically, they focus on children’s preferences for certain products over others and/or by the requests made for products in response to advertising. Studies on the behavioural effects of advertising find that television has a major effect on the products children ask for and that increased television watching leads to increased requests for advertised products. In addition, television advertising creates misperceptions among children about the nutritional values of foods and how to maintain positive health. Health experts believe that constant promotion of high-calorie food is contributing to the epidemic of childhood obesity in the United States by encouraging preferences for junk food and contributing to poor eating habits.
In "Advertising Decisions and Children's Product Categories," Eileen Bridges, Richard Briesch, and Chi Kin Yim (2004)[xxix] find that the “nag factor” (see Glossary) is effective and frequent brand switching is common for households with children. It may be pertinent to cite Professor George Gerbner, dean of the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania. Gerbner argues that the mass media cultivate attitudes and values, which are already, present in a culture: the media maintain and propagate these values amongst members of a culture, thus binding it together. He has argued that television tends to cultivate middle-of-the-road political perspectives. And, Gross considered that 'television is a cultural arm of the established industrial order and as such serves primarily to maintain, stabilize and reinforce rather than to alter, threaten or weaken conventional beliefs and behaviours' (Boyd- Barrett & Braham, 1987)[xxx]. Such a function is conservative, but heavy viewers tend to regard themselves as 'moderate'.
If Gross is to be believed then we need to address one major issue that of ‘Established Industrial Order’. In American and also to a fair extent in European context this may be true but what about in societies where the established Industrial Order is from another cultural-set (western / developed society) and operates and seeks to influence the viewer (children) in a developing society like India.
Gerbner and his colleagues contend that television has a small but significant influence on the attitudes, beliefs, and judgements of viewers concerning the social world. The focus is on ‘heavy viewers’. People who watch a lot of television-programmes are likely to be more influenced by the ways in which television programmes frame the world than are individuals who watch less, especially regarding topics of which the viewer has little first-hand experience. Light viewers may have more sources of information than heavy viewers may.
However, Judith van Evra (1990)[xxxi] argues that by virtue of inexperience, young viewers may depend on television for information more than other viewers do, although Hawkins and Pingree (as cited by van Evra)[xxxii] argue that some children may not experience a cultivation effect at all where they do not understand motives or consequences. It may be that lone viewers are more open to a cultivation effect than those who view with others (Evra, 1990)[xxxiii].
Like wise, dominating our 'symbolic environment' is television advertising. It presents 'not a window on or reflection of the world, but a world in itself' (McQuail and Windahl, 1993)[xxxiv].
While absolute consensus has yet to be reached on the impact of advertising on children, many experts agree that television has a unique capacity to influence children both cognitively and behaviourally. Studies of cognitive effects generally focus on a child’s ability to distinguish between commercials and television programming and to understand that advertising is a tool used to sell products. Many young children, especially those under the age of eight in India, may have difficulty with this distinction; it is not until around the age of 12 that most children are able to comprehend the purpose of advertising.
Defining the Problem
In certain western countries, the authorities try to protect children by establishing age limits and ratings. However, children and their parents do not always understand the ratings, or they tend to belittle their value. In addition, many movie theatres and video-rental stores are known to disregard the age limits. Besides, some programmes and films are not even rated. The situation in India is far more alarming and unregulated (Vadehra, 2004)[xxxv].
Significance & Rationale
The study ‘Advertising and Indian Children: A Study of Socio- Economic & Political Impact in the National Capital Region’ assumes that the media have significant effects. Our minds are full of media-derived information and impressions. We live in a world flooded by media sounds and images, where politics, government, and business operate on the assumption that we know what is going on in the wider world. (This is true in case of population above the age of 18 years. However, in case of children, perception of reality is often, as many studies suggest, most prone to be compromised.) Few of us cannot think of some personal instance of gaining significant information or of forming an opinion because of the media. Much money and effort is also spent on directing the media to achieve such effects.
Ever since James McNeal (1992)[xxxvi] recognized children as a distinct consumer market, advertisers have been interested in developing strategies to reach the child consumer. Matching the growing interest in children as consumers is increased concern about the consequences of marketing aimed at children, in particular television advertising.
Children’s exposure to television commercials is all through the year; and according to Kaplan (1991)[xxxvii] and Aulette (1994)[xxxviii] children ages 2 to 11 watch as many as 22,000-25,000 commercials each year. On an average, children will see 420 or more commercials each week[xxxix]. Come holiday or festival season the barrage of television advertising intensifies and children become extra vulnerable to the pressure. Pitted against bright, talented ad-agency teams devoted to convincing kids they cannot live without a certain action figure, computer game, or pair of brand-name sneakers is an adult’s sense of moderation. Many children expect that the holiday season will bring them every gift on their wish list. The result can be disastrous -- disappointed kids and guilty parents. Further, there is manipulation of media content through product placement; that is, financing programming by incorporating a sponsor's product into a show's content (Linn, May 21, 2000)[xl]. The children remain exposed to this double jeopardy.
Therefore, this paper looks at the mass media (advertising) as a socializing agent and investigates whether advertisement viewers (children) come to believe the ‘Ad’ version of reality the more they watch it.
The study further investigates another hypothesis that Indian Urban Children, under the influence of advertising campaigns of corporate like Kellogg, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Nestle-Cadburys, McDonald, Parle, Leo-Mattel, Maruti Udyog, and Peers soap are slowly transforming from a Pester Group Into A Pressure Group through a case study in the National Capital Region (New Delhi, India).
The mainstay of this research is that Advertising constitutes a separate ‘social institution’ within society, with its own rules and practices, but subject to definition and limitation by the wider society. “The media (advertising being part of it) are ultimately dependent on society, although they have some scope for independent influence and they may be gaining in autonomy as their range of activity, economic significance, and informal power grows” (McQuail, 2000)[xli].
The influence of television on children's behaviour has long been of concern among parents. Grossbart and Crosby (1984)[xlii] have suggested that heavy television advertising of food products creates some concern among parents because it promotes poor nutritional habits and serious health risks. Another source of television influence emanates from the advertisements interference with the content and/or structure of parent-child interactions. Television advertising can create a conflict between a child and his/her parents when they disagree as to what is "best" for the child.
The advertising industry aggressively seeks to understand, anticipate, and influence the perceived needs and desires of young consumers. Because marketers have taken an increasingly disciplined approach to market research, they have gained a wealth of information about children. Successful marketing is based on correctly representing customer lifestyles and making products relevant to their lives. A range of advertising styles, techniques, and channels are used to reach children and youth to foster brand loyalty and encourage product use. Some approaches are market segmentation; television advertising; sales promotions at schools, stores, and sporting events; multimedia exposure; celebrity endorsement; kid’s clubs; product placement; and advertorials. In addition, retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers, the media, schools, and corporate donors are creating mutually beneficial partnerships to gain access to, and capture the attention of, young consumers. One of their goals is to develop a market for tomorrow’s adult consumers.
The basic premise of market segmentation is that different groups of consumers have diverse attitudes, interests, and behaviours. Moreover, by acknowledging these differences, marketers believe they can increase their chances of influencing consumers’ behaviours. Segmentation involves describing the potential market’s physical, behavioural, demographic, psychographic, and geographic characteristics. Gender, age, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity are four ways that advertisers segment the youth market.
Marketers often segment age with several other factors, such as gender and socioeconomic status. Only recently have marketers acknowledged the importance of ethnic minority subcultures. Marketers tend to assume that the preferences and consumer habits of various ethnic groups are not significantly different among young children, but these preferences and habits become significant during older childhood and adolescence when ethnic and cultural identities are formed. The ability to understand and depict cultural nuances and the use of appropriate language are the two greatest challenges faced by marketers and educators in effectively reaching ethnic minority groups that are distinct and heterogeneous.
Television has been identified as the medium that provides the widest and most frequent reach for younger children. Studies, conducted in the United States of America and Europe, show that pre-schoolers spend more time watching television than they spend on anything else except sleeping (Anderson, Lorch, Field, Collins, & Nathan, 1986)[xliii]. According to Kaplan (1991)[xliv] and Aulette (1994)[xlv] children ages 2 to 11 watch an average of 26 hours of television each week. In a 3-hour setting, a child may watch about 30 minutes of advertising, totalling 20-40 advertisements each hour depending on their length and may be exposed to as many as 22,000-25,000 commercials each year. Research on television viewing and children's socialization indicates that television has a considerable impact on children's lives (Lauer & Lauer, 1994)[xlvi]. Television commercials use attention-catching techniques such as attractive models and familiar songs and jingles; they provide easily stored and recalled images from memory; they motivate children to retain information by highlighting the relevant, desired behaviour; and they are highly repetitious. Advertisers are now looking beyond children’s programs to reach the larger audience of children who are watching prime-time television or listening to the radio with their parents because it is an opportunity to reinforce the connection between children’s independent purchases and their influence on family purchases. Marketers who want to focus on children’s personal spending choose media that deliver messages to a large number of children in their desired target group. Marketers who want to take advantage of young people’s power to influence family purchases choose commercials or television programs that reach children or teenage youth together with their parents.
Heroes, heroines, and role models can motivate children and teenage youth to buy products and services. The celebrities most admired by children are entertainers or athletes. The likes of McDonald’s and Pepsi have used Michael Jordon, Michael Jackson, Shahrukh Khan, and Virendra Sehwag to endorse food and beverage products targeted to children. Celebrity endorsements encourage children to buy products for their status appeal.
The status products being marketed are costly, and celebrity commercials are becoming increasingly slick. Today’s children are contending not only with the celebrity appeal in television and magazine advertisements but also with peer pressure from friends who see the same commercials. Children must also face the financial realities of wanting products that they do not need and/or their parents cannot afford.
Some corporations (Nickelodeon, Fox, Burger King, and Disney) have created kid’s clubs. A kid’s club establishes an ongoing relationship with its members by providing membership cards and participatory activities that are dependent on spending money. Research has suggested that kid’s clubs promote consumerism, reinforce commercial interests by building brand loyalty, and provide a convenient vehicle to deliver commercial messages and perpetuate ongoing advertising to children. Many of these clubs use their enrolment databases to distribute coupons for club merchandise.
The above-sited issues in themselves warrant a further in-depth study on impact of advertising on children as:
Children represent a group of potential consumers, with increasing purchasing power, yet on account of their youth are easily influenced by impressions conveyed by adults. They are probably the most susceptible group of all consumers in this respect.
Children are exposed and should be protected. The adults closest to them, normally the parents, usually provide the first line of protection. However, this is a difficult perhaps impossible task for the parents alone, especially considering the enormous effectiveness of the TV medium.
Children cannot distinguish between TV advertising and programs. A substantial part of the research indicates that it is only around the age of 12 that most children have developed a more complete understanding of the purpose of advertising. (Even if children at an earlier age may very well be aware that TV ads are presented in a different form than TV programs, it does not mean that they are also aware of the commercial purpose).
Children look at advertising for adults, why can they not have their own. Research shows that children understand more easily the purpose of TV advertising directed towards adults than the purpose of ads directed at them.
Children are an important economic factor. To companies children are an attractive target groups as they become aware of certain products at an early age and significantly affect the purchasing decisions of their parents.
A large proportion of food advertising in connection with children’s programs bears testimony to the fact that companies increasingly tend to challenge the decisions of parents.
The proposed research’s premise is that the main kinds of media (Advertising) induced changes can:
Cause intended change
Cause unintended change
Cause minor change (form or intensity)
Facilitate change (intended or not)
Reinforce what exists in larger social reality (no change)
Prevent change
Any of these changes may occur at the level of the individual, society, institution, or culture. Heavy watching of any media is seen as ‘cultivating’ attitudes, as George Gerbner argues (as cited by Severin & Tankard, June 2000)[xlvii], which are more consistent with the world based on commercial dictates of corporate producers of goods & market rather than with the everyday world. Watching advertising may tend to induce a general mindset about needs, “must have,” and consumerism in the world. Some young impressionable minds on growing up as adults may exhibit tendencies of blind brand loyalties, or fickleness of mind, or subscribe to certain biased free-market oriented socio-economic policies, and or even divergent neo-cultural political mindsets. This in turn may prompt deviant or irrational approach to life, society, and social interaction. In western-developed societies, much policy and regulation is directed at preventing the media from causing harm.
In the epilogue to her path-breaking book, When Old Technologies Were New: Thinking About Electric Communication in the Late Nineteenth Century[xlviii], Carolyn Marvin writes that the early electrical technologies - the electric telegraph and the electric light - were central to the new era of "cognitive imperialism", in which "Western civilization was the centre of the stage play for which the rest of the world was an awestruck audience”. This holds true today for advertising as the gradual westernization of developing societies is an inevitable consequence of the, perhaps unconscious propaganda of multi-national advertising agencies.
Operative definitions:
What is a Child?
Article 1 defines the holder of rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child[xlix] as ‘every human being below the age of 18 years unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.’ The Convention clearly specifies the upper age limit for childhood as 18 years, but recognises that majority may be obtained at an earlier age under laws applicable to the child.
Though legislation has been enacted to make 18 years the general age of majority in India, 21 years continues to be the upper limit for childhood for some purposes, partly due to the influence of nineteenth-century English Law and partly due to current exigencies (Child and Law, 1998)[l] For example, India recognises 21 years as the age of majority in circumstances where a guardian has been appointed by the Court for a child below the age of 18 years.[li]
Through out the study, the term child / children refer to young people aged between 8 years and 12 years only. Children are economically dependent and not capable of reasoning at the adult level, and considered emotionally and economically vulnerable. According to Allen Kanner (October, 2003)[lii], a child psychologist, “They (children) are less sophisticated in terms of analyzing the purpose of an advertisement, and the strategies and manipulation being used to convince them…”
What is advertising?
Advertising can be recognised and defined as openly paid, non-personal communication forms used with persuasive intent by identified sources through various media.
An analysis of each element of this definition follows:
Openly Paid: Advertising is openly (and directly) paid for as against publicity, which is not openly paid for by the source (therefore, the source, meaning the sponsor, is not identified). Since it is paid, the sponsor (identified source) has control over the form, content and scheduling of the advertisement.
Non-personal communication: This phrase excludes any form of personal selling, which is usually done on a person-to-person or on a door-to-door basis. If it is a person-to-person presentation, it does not strictly constitute advertising.
Forms: Advertising may be in any form of presentation. It may be a sign, a symbol, and an illustration, an ad message in a magazine or newspaper, a commercial on the radio or on television, a circular despatched through the mail or a pamphlet handed out at a street corner, a sketch or a message on a hoarding or a poster or a banner on the Net. Any form of presentation, which an advertiser imagines will fulfil the requirements of an ad can be employed. The proposed study shall, however, be confined to advertising on electronic media namely Television.
Persuasive Intent:
The message of any advertising is always to ‘persuade’ the target audience to realise the potential, merits, and importance of the product or goods, services, and Ideas for Action and awaken the sleeping desire or encourage a need to purchase the same. The text prompts the audience to explore, evaluate, and realise the need for the product or service and thereby prompt the target audience member to undertake a purchasing decision.
All this can be done by attracting attention, rousing interest, building desire, and obtaining action (which will result in successfully selling of goods, services, Ideas for Action.).
Identified Sources:
The sponsor (source) of any advertising material is always openly identified. It may be so by his or her company’s name or brand name or both. If, in an ad, the sponsor is not identified and it is not paid for its use of the media in which it has appeared, the message is considered publicity. The publicity material, when prepared, may be paid for by its sponsor; but the media that carries it does so free of charge.
Advertising is a disarmingly simple and extraordinarily complex phenomenon. The study of implications of this phenomenon or advertology, as Isaac Asimov called it, is based on three traditional premises:
That media (advertising) is a part of the larger whole of the society and business system.
That the receiver of the advertising message is at the heart of the advertising transaction: Advertising seems to perform most efficiently when it interprets its subject matters in terms that are ‘meaningful’ to the lives of those it seeks to influence.
That advertising does not lend itself to oversimplification and facile categorisation. Hence, the various forms of advertising (retail, business, trade, idea, and etcetera) and is referred through out the study as a whole rather than treated as things apart or different forms since the intent in case of addressing the young consumer is the same.
Aims & Objectives
To understand responses of children about selected advertising.
To ascertain persuasive power of advertising on children in urban India has both short-term and long-term effects, which are small, gradual, indirect but cumulative and significant.
Explore the effects of advertisement viewing on the attitudes of viewers (urban Indian children).
Explore possible “first order effects” (general beliefs about the everyday world) and “second order effects” (specific attitudes) on urban Indian children.
A policy recommendation be developed on the basis of which i) a ban for children under 12 be recommended or ii) a rational, stringent set of guidelines and regulations governing advertising for children.
[i] Packard, Vance (1961). The Hidden Persuaders. Pocket. later Printing. Mass Market Paperback.
[ii] Chunawalla, S., A., & Sethia, K., C. (2003). Foundations Of Advertising – Theory & Practice (5th Edition). Himalaya Publishing House. Mumbai
[iii] Anderson, D. R., Lorch, E. P., Field, D. E., Collins, P., & Nathan, J. G. (1986). ‘Television viewing at home: Age trends in visual attention and time with TV’. Child Development, 57, p. 1024-1033.
[iv] Cooke, R. (2002). Kids and Media. International Journal of Advertising and Marketing to children, 3(4), p.29-36.
[v] American Psychological Association (2004), "Report of the APA Task Force on Advertising and Children", American Psychological Association, Washington, DC, available at: www.apa.org/releases/childrenads.pdf.
[vi] Lauer, R. H., & Lauer, J. C. (1994). Marriage and family: The quest for intimacy. Madison, WI: Brown & Benchmark.
[vii] Anderson, D. R., Lorch, E. P., Field, D. E., Collins, P., & Nathan, J. G. (1986). Television viewing at home: Age trends in visual attention and time with TV. Child Development, 57, p. 1024-1033.
Kaplan, P. (1991). A Child's Odyssey. St. Paul, M N: West Publishing.
Aulette, J. R. (1994). Changing families. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company.
[viii] See Glossary
[ix] Basow, S. A. (1992). Gender stereotypes and roles (3rd ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing.
[x] Stoneman, Z., & Brody, G. H. (1981). Peers as mediators of television food advertisements aimed at children. Developmental Psychology, 17, p. 853-858.
[xi] Kunkel, Dale, “Children and television advertising,” Dorothy G. Singer & Jerome L. Singer, 2001 edition, Handbook of Children and the Media, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. pp. 375-393.
[xii] Kunkel, Dale, “Children and television advertising,” Dorothy G. Singer & Jerome L. Singer, 2001 edition, Handbook of Children and the Media, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. pp. 375-393.
[xiii] Stop Commercial Exploitation of Children, http://www.commercialexploitation.com/what_we_do.htm, generated 6/3/04.
[xiv] “Television Advertising Leads to Unhealthy Habits in Children; Says APA Task Force,” American Psychological Association press release, 2/23/04, http://www.apa.org/releases/childrenads.html, generated 6/4/04.
[xv] Kaiser Family Foundation, The Role of Media in Childhood Obesity, February 2004, p. 10, http://www.kff.org/entmedia/loader.cfm?url=/commonspot/security/getfile.cfm&PageID=32022, generated 6/6/04.
[xvi] Chunawalla, S., A., & Sethia, K., C. (2003). Foundations Of Advertising – Theory & Practice (5th Edition). Himalaya Publishing House. Mumbai. (2p)
[xvii] Winick, Charles, Lorne G. Williamson, Stuart F. Chuzmir, and Mariann P. Winick (1973), Children's Television Commercials: A Content Analysis, New York: Praeger.
[xviii] Alexander, Alison, Louise M. Benjamin, Keisha Hoerrner, and Darrell Roe (1998),""We'll Be Back In a Moment": A Content Analysis of Advertisements in Children's Television in the 1950s," Journal of Advertising, 27 (3), p. 1-8.
[xix] McNeal, James U. (1987), Children As Consumers: Insights And Implications, Lexington: Lexington Books.
[xx] Kassarjian, Harold H. (1977), "Content Analysis in Consumer Research," Journal of Consumer Research, 4 (June), p. 8-18.
[xxi] Guest, Lester P. (1955), “Brand Loyalty—Twelve Years Later,” Journal of Applied Psychology, 39 (December), p. 405–408
[xxii] Reisman, David and Howard Roseborough (1955), “Careers and Consumer Behavior,” in Consumer Behavior, Vol. 2, The Life Cycle and Consumer Behavior, ed. Lincoln Clark, New York: New York University Press, p. 1–18
[xxiii] McNeal, James U. (1964), Children as Consumers, Austin: Bureau of Business Research, University of Texas at Austin.
[xxiv] Cateora, Phillip R. (1963), An Analysis of the Teenage Market, Austin: University of Texas Bureau of Business Research.
[xxv] Ward, Scott (1974), “Consumer Socialization,” Journal of Consumer Research, 1 (September), p. 1–14.
[xxvi] Osman Md Zain & Aliah Hanim Mohd Salleh. 1987/88. Patterns of Television Viewing by Malaysian Children in the Urban District of Petaling Jaya." Journal Pengurusan 6 & 7: p. 69-80.
[xxvii] Frideres, James S. 1973. "Advertising, Buying Patterns and Children." Journal of Advertising Research 13, 1 (February): p. 34-36.
[xxviii] Robertson, T, Rossiter, J R & Gleason, T C. 1979. "Children's Receptivity to Proprietary Medicine Advertising." Journal of Consumer Research 6 (December): p. 247-255.
[xxix] Eileen Bridges, Richard A. Briesch, and Chi Kin (Bennett) Yim (August 2004). “Advertising Decisions and “Children’s” Product Categories. A SMU Cox Research Paper for A.C. Nielsen Company
[xxx] Boyd-Barrett, Oliver & Peter Braham (eds.) (1987): Media, Knowledge & Power. London: Croom Helm. (100p)
[xxxi] Evra, Judith Page van. (1990). Television and child development. Hillsdale, N.J.: L. Erlbaum Associates, p. 167
[xxxii] Evra, Judith Page van. (1990). Television and child development. Hillsdale, N.J.: L. Erlbaum Associates, p. 167
[xxxiii] Evra, Judith Page van. (1990). Television and child development. Hillsdale, N.J.: L. Erlbaum Associates, p. 171
[xxxiv] McQuail, Denis & Sven Windahl (1993): Communication Models for the Study of Mass Communication. London: Longman (p. 100)
[xxxv] Vadehra, Sharad. “Advertising to children in India”. Young Consumers Quarter 4, 2004
[xxxvi] McNeal, James U. (1992) Kids as Customers: A Handbook of Marketing to Children. Lexington Books, nd, c1992
[xxxvii] Kaplan, P. (1991). A Child's Odyssey. St. Paul, MN: West Publishing.
[xxxviii] Aulette, J. R. (1994). Changing Families. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company.
[xxxix] Poussaint, Alvin and Linn, Susan. In their web article: Surviving Television Advertising. on http://fun.familyeducation.com/television/advertising/34912.html claimed this figure to be 576 television advertisements per week.
[xl] Linn, Susan (May 21, 2000). How about "The Sopranos" sell . . . soda? Product messages of big time sponsors leach into shows and scripts. © 2000 Globe Newspaper Company
[xli] Denis McQuail, Mass Communication Theory, fourth ed. 2000, SAGE Publications
[xlii] Grossbart, S L & Crosby, L A. 1984. "Understanding the Bases of Parental Concern and Reaction to Children's Food Advertising.” Journal of Marketing 48 (Summer): p. 79-92.
[xliii] Anderson, D. R., Lorch, E. P., Field, D. E., Collins, P., & Nathan, J. G. (1986). ‘Television viewing at home: Age trends in visual attention and time with TV’. Child Development, 57, p. 1024-1033.
[xliv] Kaplan, P. (1991). A Child's Odyssey. St. Paul, MN: West Publishing.
[xlv] Aulette, J. R. (1994). Changing Families. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company.
[xlvi] Lauer, R. H., & Lauer, J. C. (1994). Marriage and Family: The Quest for Intimacy. Madison, WI: Brown & Benchmark.
[xlvii] Severin, Werner J. & Tankard, James W. (June 2000) Communication Theories: Origins, Methods and Uses in the Mass Media (5th Edition), Allyn & Bacon; 5 edition (June 19, 2000), p. 299-301.
[xlviii] Marvin, Carolyn (1988). When Old Technologies Were New: Thinking About Electric Communication in the Late Nineteenth Century. Oxford University Press; Reprint edition (May 1990)
[xlix] Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989). The United Nations adopted the ‘Convention on the Rights of the Child’ (CRC) in 1989. In 1992, just three years later, India acceded to the CRC, becoming one of the first few countries in the world to do so.
[l] Child and Law, Indian Council for Child Welfare, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, 1998, page 210.
[li] Child and Law, Indian Council for Child Welfare, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, 1998, page 210.
[lii] Kasser, Tim and Kanner, Allen D. (Eds). Psychology and Consumer Culture: The Struggle for a Good Life in a Materialistic World. American Psychological Association (APA) (October 2003).


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