• Advertising and Young Children

    In our society today, children are an attractive target group for the advertising industry. But why are children interested in advertising messages? What design elements are there for children to focus their attention on and how does advertising influence them?

    Advertisement Addresses Core Needs

    When addressing children, advertising refers specifically to core needs. Such advertising promises include popularity, recognition, participation and the right to a say. Advertising plays an important role for the target group because childhood issues, developmental tasks and developmental psychological factors are fully integrated. In addition, advertising gives orientation to the children and it also provides information about the world. Children’s needs, which are triggered by advertising, support their own opinion-forming and decision-making. Children are given the opportunity to deal with what is important to them and learn how to make decisions.

    Advertisement Is Fascinating

    As with general media content, children are fascinated by advertising that relates to their life and takes their interests into account. In addition, children can easily understand commercials, as they are usually stringent in terms of content. This, in turn, is very effective in attracting their attention. In addition to forms, voices, music and colours, children are also impressed by the inventiveness of the advertisers and the element of humour they apply. Additionally, a very strong element is the music they use and it takes no time to sing along the advertising jingles. Thus, the advertised products become memorable.

    Advertising Uses Familiar Characters

    Children's attention is also drawn to advertising through the use of familiar characters. Advertisers use either characters which children already know from media areas, or they create special characters for the advertisements, which specifically address popular themes and interests of children. Familiarity with products and brands as well as trends within the age group can also affect children's attention. Their interest in advertising increases when they can recognise labels or brand names.

    Sometimes a change of perspective helps. Encourage children to think up a small advertising spot for a certain product and to realise it. This way, children develop better understanding of the intentions of advertising and the goals the advertisers pursue in their work. Afterwards you can think together with the children why advertisements do not always deliver what they promise. This way, a critical examination of advertising can be improved and the goals of advertising can be better understood.

    The frequent repetition of advertising and the marketing of products via several media channels lead to quick memorisation of slogans and brand names. This, in turn, can influence children's own understanding of the brand or their decision to buy (or indirectly the decision of their parents). In particular, a promoted product awakens consumer wishes and is considered in a positive way if its advertisement is perceived positively. If an advertisement message promises positive product features, then children believe these promises.

    Children do not question the credibility of advertising. Only through their own positive or negative experiences can they gradually differentiate their perception of advertising promises.

    Watch a selected food commercial with the children, e.g. for a yoghurt, and collect impressions and messages. The children can then become food testers and analyse the product in terms of taste and appearance. In a group, compare previously expressed ideas about the product with the actual "test results". This way, children can recognise differences and similarities between the advertising promise and the real product.

    Download: Template Food Testers

    Children's natural curiosity, openness and thirst for knowledge make it easy for the advertising industry to arouse their interest and be noticed. Younger children find it difficult to clearly distinguish and understand the information provided. Advertising appeals can therefore easily reach their target group.

    Children can also sometimes develop a critical and negative attitude towards advertising. This happens, for example, when they feel strongly disturbed by advertising when using the media.

    Consumer habits and basic values in the family also have a significant impact on the extent to which children are influenced by advertising in terms of their desires and needs. Ultimately, parents show their children how they themselves deal with consumer wishes and advertising and are responsible for their family's purchasing decisions.

    Comprehension Questions

    1. Why are children interested in advertising?

    2. What needs of the children do companies address when they design advertisements for this target group?

    3. What features used in the media make advertised products memorable?

    4. How can you help children at ECEC to evaluate advertised products and make decisions about which product to buy?