Gransnet forums


... at finding the aggressive advertising Christmas campaigns aimed at children, so totally wrong?

(57 Posts)
granjura Mon 01-Dec-14 21:36:26

Our grandchildren are bombarded from October onwards of Christmas toy advertising- so aggressive and constant- and bordering on the fraudulent (eg toys perfroming amazing stunts the toys are totally unable to perform in real life)- should that be stopped and better controlled?

rosesarered Mon 01-Dec-14 21:45:41

Oh, toys never live up to the hype do they? Even before tv ads, the box of whatever it was that you were bought always looked more marvellous than it actually was.I haven't found ads to be aggresive, and my grandchildren love all the ads, I don't think they seriously expect everything at Christmas though, and are always happy with whatever they receive.

Ana Mon 01-Dec-14 22:04:29

I must admit I haven't noticed many ads for Christmas toys this year, but perhaps because I only watch tv in the evening? In fact, I can't recall a single one...

Eloethan Mon 01-Dec-14 23:11:08

Apparently in Sweden there is a ban on toy adverts aimed at children under 12. At least it goes some way towards stopping the brainwashing.

The Amsterdam Schools of Communications Research found that children as young as 2 recognise brand logos, and the amount of TV they watch determines how many they recognise.

granjura Tue 02-Dec-14 10:02:35

Ana, the advertising is on all the childrens' channels- coming on more or less every 15 minutes. Perhaps the word 'aggressive' was poorly chosen- and 'relentless' would be more apt- and this begins in mid October at least.

Sweden is not the only country that bans them, it is the same here in Switzerland, and I am sure, in many others too. To bombard children in this relentless commercial way seems so wrong to me- and to all the relatives and friends we talked to in the UK over past 2 weeks. So it seems strange so few here have commented. Do you really think it is appropriate and fair?

And, as said, these ads seem to fly in the Trades description act which clearly states that claims made in an advert have to be true to reality- the ads show plastic inanimate toys performing the most amazing stunts- which are totally impossible to do in any way, shape or form. Just like the lovely penguins in the JL ad.... at least they have the honesty to show, right at the end- that they are just that- stuffed, inanimate toys.

Shame on JL for refusing to make any kind of donation to the Penguin charity in hte Cape, that rescues 1000s of orphoned penguins just like the one shown in the ad, but I digress.

granjura Tue 02-Dec-14 10:06:06

A lot of very interesting articles on the subject, if you'd like to read more.

Some psychologists cry foul as peers help advertisers target young consumers.


Ever since he first started practicing, Berkeley, Calif., psychologist Allen D. Kanner, PhD, has been asking his younger clients what they wanted to do when they grew up. The answer used to be "nurse," "astronaut" or some other occupation with intrinsic appeal.

Today the answer is more likely to be "make money." For Kanner, one explanation for that shift can be found in advertising.

"Advertising is a massive, multi-million dollar project that's having an enormous impact on child development," says Kanner, who is also an associate faculty member at a clinical psychology training program called the Wright Institute. "The sheer volume of advertising is growing rapidly and invading new areas of childhood, like our schools."


According to Kanner, the result is not only an epidemic of materialistic values among children, but also something he calls "narcissistic wounding" of children. Thanks to advertising, he says, children have become convinced that they're inferior if they don't have an endless array of new products.

If the adverts were NOT having a strong effect on children, pushing sales up- advertisers would NOT spend millions on advertising, would they?

ginny Tue 02-Dec-14 11:17:31

Busnesses are there to make money. Christmas toy advertising been around for years. Yes , children will always want the latest thing and be convinced that everyone else has or will have it. Ok if families can afford it but maybe there are times when we just have to say 'sorry, we can't afford to buy them .' We had to say this a number of times when our DDs were younger and they survived and don't hate us.

granjura Tue 02-Dec-14 11:29:02

Same with our kids. But I feel the pressures seem even greater on families where money is short- and where many kids constantly compare themselves, or are beign compared by others- to other kids with the latest 'xyz'.

How many families put themselves into severe debt, at massive % interest- due to pressure of feeling they 'have to keep up' with Christmas present buying? Businesses are out to make money- and that is my point entirely- this is not what Christmas should be about, and our grandkids deserve protection from sheer wanton advertising.

granjura Tue 02-Dec-14 11:31:15

Here is another interesting article- I wish I had known about the campaign, we would both have signed:

A little girl watching TV Sweden

'Before children have even developed a proper sense of their own identity … they are encouraged to associate status and self-worth with stuff.' Photograph: Alamy

How on earth did we come to this? We protect our children obsessively from every harm, we vet every carer, teacher or medic with whom they come into contact, we fret about their education, their development. Yet despite all this, one group, which in no way has their best interests at heart, has almost unfettered access.

We seem to take it for granted that advertisers and marketeers are allowed to groom even the youngest children. Before children have even developed a proper sense of their own identity, or learned to handle money, they are encouraged to associate status and self-worth with stuff, and to look to external things such as fame and wealth for validation. We're turning out legions of little consumers rather than young citizens who will value themselves for what they contribute to the society in which they live. If you inculcate the values of the consumer society from childhood then it's no wonder that those of the "big society" fail to take root. The one surely precludes the other.

We've reached this point so gradually that many of us have never questioned it. It's crept up on us in the 60 years since advertisers started to target the young and found that they could recruit them to a commercial assault on their parents. We've come to know it as pester power.

Like so many aspects of parenthood we only grasp the full reality when we experience it first-hand, in my case when my son, now six, mastered the TV remote. When he'd watched only the BBC's CBeebies he was largely shielded from the effects of advertising. Once he'd found the commercial channels, it was like watching the consumerist equivalent of crack take hold. The adverts would come on. A minute later there would invariably be a demand for something that had just been advertised – anything, so long as it wasn't pink and didn't involve fairies. Then there would be the tantrum when I said no; this from a boy who had never been prone to tantrums.

Many psychologists, child development experts and educators point to research suggesting that this emerging cradle-to-grave consumerism is contributing to growing rates of low self-esteem, depression and other forms of mental illness.

Not all psychologists agree. There are plenty working hand in glove with a £12bn-a-year industry that has turned the manipulation of adult emotions and desires into an artform – often literally. It's also one that's forever developing new ways to persuade our children to desire the material morsels dangled before them, and because of advertising's viral effect they only need to infect a few to reach the many.

I do have friends whose children are largely free from the pressures of advertising, but they live in a mobile home on a smallholding in a remote corner of Ireland. For the rest of us, ads are ubiquitous.

Should we ban all advertising aimed at young children, full stop? I say yes.

Of course there will be plenty of objections to an outright ban on advertising to the under-11s. There will be those who argue that would be a breach of freedom of speech and infringes the rights of corporations to brainwash little children into demanding their tat.

There's the "it's technically impossible" objection, though the same software that helps online advertisers stalk us can filter out groups such as children too. Other countries, including Norway, Sweden, Greece as well as the Canadian province of Quebec, already have bans, particularly on TV ads.

Then there are those who will claim it would drive some businesses under. That's both an admission that pester power works and ignores the counter-argument that a business that has to bypass parents in order to sell its stuff really needs to raise its game. Target me, not my six-year-old. I'm the one with the money. If you can't persuade me your product is worth getting, it probably isn't, so make something better. Or businesses that rely on ad revenue will have to rely on other models, such as subscriptions.

Most parents hate what advertising does to their children. We have the power to end it and let our children grow up free from many of the pressures of consumerism until they're old enough to make their own decisions. And though advertising is only part of an all-pervasive marketing culture we need to make a start somewhere. Let's ban all advertising targeting children of primary school age and younger now.

• Together with Green politician Rupert Read, Jonathan Kent has launched the campaign Leave Our Kids Alone
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Liz46 Tue 02-Dec-14 11:32:21

My DD tells me that my GC are a nightmare at the moment. They want everything that is advertised.

Eloethan Tue 02-Dec-14 15:06:09

I agree 100% with everything you say granjura and I think the article is spot on. It is, as was said, a form of "grooming" and it should not be allowed. It's bad enough adults being subjected to this constant barrage of adverts, but at least they can switch the sound off and can to some degree understand that the adverts are not to be taken at face value.

As the article pointed out, many psychologists, instead of using their knowledge and skills to help people, are employed by businesses to make their advertising more effective - often using the most insidious methods, including the creation of underlying feelings of anxiety and unworthiness.

Nonnie Tue 02-Dec-14 15:26:51

Of course children want the things they see on television and the things they see in the shops and the things their friends have, this has always been true and always will be. I think it is better to teach children that they can't have everything they want rather than not show them what is available. How are they going to learn these lessons and how to discriminate about what is on offer unless they are exposed to it? If they learn when they are young that they can't have everything they want they will have learnt a lifelong useful lesson.

It seems to me that many parents are frightened to say 'no' to their children but it is one of the best lessons they can learn.

Recently I bought my gs a present which he chose in the shop and then asked if he would like an ice cream and he looked at the present and the ice cream cabinet to see which he wanted most and was very excited to hear he could have both.

papaoscar Tue 02-Dec-14 15:57:02

Yes, all this advertising pressure on kids and adults reaches a high point as Christmas approaches. But its not a new thing. I remember our youngsters getting more pleasure out the glossy cardboard box than the present inside. Now the difficulty of choosing presents and the sophistication and cost of what's on offer seems to diminish somehow the warm glow of giving.

granjura Tue 02-Dec-14 20:04:46

But that is the point papa- it ok to advertise to adults, but not children to such a massive extent. Our daughters were born in the early 70s, and the advertising then was not so sophisticated and there were no children only channels like Ceebeebies, etc. Yes, they loved the box of their Tiny tears or whatever. But the situation nowadays is just so different. Perhaps some of you have not watched childrens' channels recently- I challenge you to try for a couple 1 hour, between, say, 4 and 5pm.

Why is it considered ok in the uk and usa, but totally illegal in many countries, do you think?

Advertising is about one thing and one thing only, making money and more money- ethics? What ethics?

Thank goodness our grandkids watch very little tv- and have a very healthy lifestyle. As always, though, it is the most vulnerable children, and their families, which are more at risk.

papaoscar Tue 02-Dec-14 20:29:51

I remember, * granjura *, what a pleasure it was (and may be still is) to look at all the adverts all over the London tube every day, and I suppose that, subliminally at least, they were registering. I don't remember any of them resulting in me buying something I wouldn't otherwise have done, but who knows, advertising obviously works or they wouldn't do it. Our economic system depends on materialism and consumption, all fed by credit. Uncomfortable though we might feel at seeing the recent Black Friday buying frenzy and thinking about all those maxed-out credit cards that's the way things are, so I suppose we, and our kids, have just got to get on with it. As you rightly say ethics, what ethics? Mind you, being of a simple mind, I would just ban all adverts aimed at children, on principle!

Mishap Tue 02-Dec-14 20:49:53

My GS spends much of his time lusting after trainers of one kind or another that he wants his Mum to bid for in ebay. If she refuses he gets very cross and causes ructions. He already has trainers - several pairs - it has to be fueled by adverts. They cause nothing but trouble. I'm with papaoscar that ads aimed at children should be banned.

rosesarered Tue 02-Dec-14 21:10:05

Good post nonnie and I agree entirely. Being told 'no' is a good life lesson. When children understand reason, you can tell them it's too expensive.A lot of parents are afraid to say the 'no' word to both gifts, sweets and bad behaviour.Parents on tight budgets [like my own mother] would buy us small gifts, we didn't spend too much on our own children either, being three of them and expensive to bring up, clothes etc and as a result are lovely adults. Yes, there is a lot of advertising, but there always was in one form or another. Adults are pretty stupid if they max out their credit cards to give children expensive trainers, Xboxes and what have you, I can't understand why they do it.There are lots of good and inexpensive toys, books etc out there to buy if you look.

granjura Tue 02-Dec-14 21:18:46

Totally and absolutely agree with the beginning of your post rosesarered.

But not the second part- there are so many vulnerable children, from vulnerable families in so many ways. Great article the other day by the head of a top private school in London, re the emotional deprivation of rich children.

Our grandchildren deserve not to be pawns in the hands of big business- and deserve our protection. Why should they be manipulated and exploited in this way? You must be very naïve if you believe advertising is not very effective. Why on earth do you think big business spends millions on it?

Again, why do you think it is considered ok in the UK and the USA, but not in many other places in the world- where it is seen as wrong to aim slick and relentless advertising at children?

rosesarered Tue 02-Dec-14 21:41:51

Am not at all naive thanks Granjura but simply do not feel upset as you obviously do about adverts.By vulnerable, do you mean from poor backgrounds? Of course advertising is effective, who said it isn't?I simply don't believe that parents should fork out mountains of cash they don't have for a load of either plastic tat or electronic goods, and that it does the children good to be told sometimes that they can't have it.As I said in an earlier post, my own DGC actually enjoy the ads.
We don't all feel the same as you about this, some will, and some won't, it's as simple as that. Even without tv ads, children will see things in the shops all the time, and see the toys that their friends have.

granjura Tue 02-Dec-14 21:45:47

LOL are you a politician?

granjura Tue 02-Dec-14 21:49:08

Again, why do you think it is considered ok in the UK and the USA, but not in many other places in the world- where it is seen as wrong to aim slick and relentless advertising at children?

as you obvioulsy did not read my post (eg listen- as I made it clear deprivation is not just for 'poor' children) and avoid, again, the repeated question.

rosesarered Tue 02-Dec-14 22:17:51

How should I know why Britain and the US and other countries allow the ads and some countries don't? Different cultures,and all that.I did read your post but found it a bit vague really, 'emotional deprivation' in rich families? What has that to do with ads? You do things differently in Switzerland than we do here. OK.

ginny Tue 02-Dec-14 22:31:59

Not having the latest toys, gadgets or clothes maybe upsetting for some children but it won't ruin any ones life. Lack of love and affection which one cannot buy even if were advertised is the big problem. The sooner more people realise this the better. Children need to learn that life is not always fair.

Eloethan Wed 03-Dec-14 00:11:22

rosesarered I think granjura is right to express concern about this situation and for you to simply brush off her comments with "You do things differently in Switzerland than we do here. OK" is unnecessarily rude.

Children are being exposed to the drip drip effect of TV advertising which, along with the potential for pressurising parents and causing family discord, may well condition young people to a lifetime of "I want". That is the purpose of advertisers and if they can catch them young, all the better.

granjura Wed 03-Dec-14 10:06:20

Thank you Eloethan. Rosesared- I may have been born in a different country, and live there now For the past 5 years)- but I am British, and lived all my adult life in the UK, have British daughters and very British grandchildren- and still care passionately for England. We may even move back one day- we still have property in the Midlands and visit very regularly- and what happens to our grandchildrens' lives, IN ENGLAND, does concern me- and my OH, who feels exactly the same and is very British. Comparing how things are done, be it education, recycling, governement, etc, can only be positive as it makes you constantly re-assess priorities and processes. As an elected councillor here, on the education and health-service boards- I am constantly using great examples of much better practices from the UK. We can all learn from each other. I live right next to France, where most things are done differently again- and we exchange a lot of ideas too.

Perhaps Gransnet could clarify if one needs to be born British and live in the UK in order to participate here? (lol).

And yes, the USAa culture is being allowed to pervade British culture more and more, and for me (us) is a much greater concern than European or Indian immigration- as it is very pervasive.