Why marketing to children has gotten WAY out of hand

As a Charlotte marketing agency, we typically help brands and retailers connect with adult consumers, not children. This hasn’t been a conscious decision – more a function of circumstances and opportunities. Which is probably a good thing, because, should we ever be presented with an opportunity to create marketing that targets underage consumers, there are some serious considerations we would have to work through.

Last year, companies spent about $17 billion annually marketing to children, a staggering increase from the $100 million spent in 1983. As a result, this huge age-targeted spend has made the current generation of children the most brand conscious ever. Children ages 2-11 see more than 25,000 advertisements a year on TV alone, a figure that does not include product placement. Kids are also targeted with advertising on the Internet, cell phones, mp3 players, video games, school buses, and in school. Almost every major media program for children has a line of licensed merchandise including food, toys, clothing, and accessories. Brand licensed toys accounted for $22.3 billion in 2006, and there are (sigh) currently over 40,000 Disney Princess items available for sale.

Below is an eye-opening TED Talk given by author, activist, and project director of the Food MythBusters, Anna Lappe, in which she takes on the billion-dollar business of marketing junk food, soda, and fast food to children and teens.




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