Growing up in the 90s, I collected typical stuff: rocks, baseball cards and bugs. I also had a strange fascination with things that came in cereal boxes. Did these items hurt me in any way? No (but after awhile – the bugs started to die off, hence my parents reasoning for getting me a puppy at age 6).
Did I spend my allowance on my ever-so-pretty rock collection and baseball cards? Sure, but I also would talk my mom into buying name brand cereal strictly because of the Saved by the Bell trading cards or Rugrats stickers. I most likely wouldn’t have chosen those brands if it hadn’t been for the free items inside. Like with anything, the freebies were a gimmick to get my mom to spend the $3 or $4 on a specific brand.
These toys were fun and if the cereal had been outrageously priced or extremely unhealthy, I doubt my mom would have agreed to purchase the product in the first place.
Marketing to children has become a different game since the childhood obesity crisis came to life in today’s society. While doing research this week for my IMC 619 paper, I discovered a kid-friendly site put together by Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. When clicking on one of the games, this screen appeared as the game was loading.
I am very much in appreciation of Kraft’s efforts to encourage children to get off the computer at least an hour a day. The Kraft product isn’t bad for kids, in fact, it is more nutritious than fast food or fried items, but Kraft still encourages the site’s visitors to exercise.
Kraft seems to be at the top of its game – they offer a nutritious product that kids enjoy, offer kid-friendly games on their website (that don’t push the product in an obscene way) and encourage their customers to exercise. What could be better?
International non-profit organizations, such as Right to Play, encourage kids to do exactly what Kraft is doing – teach kids who might not be athletic or have the means to learn a sport that they can still be active. Even Nickelodeon turns off its channels for Worldwide Day of Play.
Although my bedroom was filled with rocks, baseball cards, bugs, stickers and trading cards, I frequently had grass stains, bruises or soaking wet hair from swimming. Marketing to children can be done successfully, and with anything, it is the parents (and child’s) responsibility to keep a balanced life.