A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about a McDonald’s commercial (here’s a link to it: McDonald’s Blog Post). In it I mentioned how McDonald’s was being sued for marketing to children because it takes away parental control over their child when they see food advertised with a toy.
Here’s a link to an article describing the lawsuit: McDonald’s Lawsuit
I had totally forgotten about this post until Toni commented it on it last week asking what’s wrong with marketing to children. It made me consider my childhood and how marketing had affected my mindset.
I remembered that when I was a child there was always some new toy out that everyone had to have just because everyone else had it. Tamagotchis. Beanie babies. Furbies. Pogs. Pokemon. Not only did you have to have that particular toy you had to have multiples of it. It wasn’t enough to have a few beanie babies. You needed to have every one you could get your hands on. And they couldn’t just be any brand of beanie baby, as my mom found out when she brought me home a knock-off, they needed to be Ty. For Pokemon (I wasn’t really that into them) you needed to “catch them all” which meant that my brother bought packs upon packs of the cards hoping for a rare Pokemon that he didn’t have.
The eerie thing was how happy some parents were to cultivate our obsession with these toys. I can remember parents of kids in my classes going to multiple stores just to get their kids beanie babies. Every year in the newspaper there was some atrocious tale of some parent who did some horrendous to another parent in their zeal to get their kid a certain toy (ex. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Jingle All the Way). I remember some years back there being an article about a mother who had bit another mother in a struggle over a Tickle Me Elmo.
Things haven’t changed much since I was a child, which really wasn’t that long ago. Kids are still being marketed too with the latest toy, gadget, gizmo, whatever. We are still the same materialistic culture as we were before, and I am not exempt from this classification. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted something just because everyone else had it and that applies still to this day. I think that this consumerism mindset has been cultivated in me since I was able to recognize familiar logos like McDonald’s, which offered a promise of toys and encouraged me to collect all of them.
I understand that it is our job as parents, teachers, and adults in general to teach children how to be informed consumers. This is now included in every curriculum in school, probably has a response to the myriad of advertisements that children are exposed to, but I believe it’s very difficult to do. I had a unit on advertising, and while I found it interesting to learn about subliminal messages, I don’t think that it changed me as a consumer. I think that I didn’t start becoming an informed consumer until I reached adulthood and even now I have my slip-ups.
For my remix I’d like to focus on how this marketing to our youth transforms us into the materialistic consumer driven beings that some of us, including myself, are today. I’d like to use old commercials from over the years that I feel exemplify this type of marketing. I’d also like to use old news clips of stories about this subject matter such as coverage of Black Fridays past. I think that I could also probably use products such as cereal boxes which encourage people to buy more of them to collect codes to get free stuff or cereal boxes of the past which offered a free toy, prompting children to ignore dietary needs or taste and focus on what was inside.
I’d also like to use songs such as Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall as well as pop songs that mention particular products, influencing people to buy them (an example would be LFO’s Summer Girls which tells people that he likes girls who wear Abercrombie and Fitch, prompting every girl I knew to figure out where this store was).
I would like to culminate my video by somehow showing visions of what these consumer children have turned into as far as being money and material obsessed. Perhaps show pictures of large houses that people bought who couldn’t afford them and then a foreclosure sign outside of them. I’m not sure if that’s reaching too far out of the realm of the project though.