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Advertising to Children: Issues of contextualisation Brian Young PhD School of Psychology University of Exeter.

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Presentation on theme: "Advertising to Children: Issues of contextualisation Brian Young PhD School of Psychology University of Exeter."— Presentation transcript:


2 Advertising to Children: Issues of contextualisation Brian Young PhD School of Psychology University of Exeter

3 Approaching the issue Health and welfare concerns Anthropological/Sociological Communication/linguistic Marketing Psychology (developmental) Economic psychology

4 Health and welfare concerns Dental Diet Obesity Body image Materialism Celebrity endorsement Regulations

5 Anthropological/Sociological Images of childhood –children and kids Cultural representations of TV –Window on the world –TV carrying commercial messages –Negative images The home and sentimentalisation of childhood –Changes in USA in 19th century –Development of towns where commerce went on –Not the place for women and children! –Sentimentalisation of childhood and the home (motherhood as well) Sacred/profane

6 Belk, R. W., Wallendorf, M., and Sherry, J. F. (1989). The sacred and the profane in consumer behavior: theodicy on the odyssey. Journal of Consumer Research, 16, Origins with Durkheim Can be extended to e.g. advertising in schools debate; September 11.

7 Put children and advertising together... Child as innocent Advertiser as seducer A relationship that evokes emotions of mythic proportions.

8 Communication/linguistic Pragmatics Rules of communicative conduct Pateman had done some work on theory of communication in advertising using pragmatics May, J. D. (1981). Practical reasoning: extracting useful information from partial informants. Journal of Pragmatics, 5,

9 Marketing Lurid language! Assume theyre kids 3 markets (McNeal) - present, future, family IJAMC

10 Psychology (developmental) Theory of child development Theory of mind as the base Reality/pretence Perspective taking (Selman) Limited information processing (John)

11 Advertising Literacy Academically interesting Of value to practitioners Any results should be able to inform the debate on regulation Good enough literacy

12 A summary of the evidence on intent Children under 5 years of age see advertising as just entertainment Between 5 and 7 children begin to understand the promotional, informative, persuasive, and commercial functions of advertising By 8-9 years of age most children understand the commercial and persuasive function of advertising.

13 Understanding promotional intent What is it? Understanding that advertising and marketing is a type of communication where only positive information about a topic (the brand) is presented

14 Advantages of a promotional communication approach Avoids marginalizing and demonizing advertising Theoretically sound Provides a link between two different areas Acknowledges a plurality of communicative types.

15 Childs understanding of promotional intent in advertising The experiment

16 Source Young, B. M. (2000). The childs understanding of promotional communication. International Journal of Advertising and Marketing to Children, 2(3),

17 Original intention Present child with an ad that broke the promotional rule and question him/her about it. But ads for kids are surreal and lack a structure. So we presented them with ads for adults that had a pain-pill-pleasure narrative.

18 Structure of experiment Each child had 7 trials - order of presentation was cycled. Videotape of a TV commercial was presented with last narrative sequence missing (i.e. the pleasure part). Child was asked to choose one of three endings (3 pictures presented)

19 The instruction... As you can see the end is missing. But we think we can use one of these pictures for a possible ending. Which one do you think should be used when the adverts shown on TV? Which one is the best to use?

20 Three endings were... Promotional where the brand + logo was presented with all problems solved Neutral where the actor was presented with e.g. neutral facial expression - no brand logo Entertaining where the brand + logo was presented with a funny ending (independently checked) that showed the brand in a negative way

21 Heres one trial [VIDEO] A cold day with a woman walking to a school. Children come out of school gate and woman greets a child. Pack shot of Cyclax Moistura Moisturiser (a face cream). Woman shown applying cream. [AUDIO] Cold wintry days dry and chap my face so I always protect my complexion with Moisturisa Moisturiser by Cyclax. This one for normal or dry skin or for combination skin new Moisturiser selective moisturiser. Its special formula only moisturises where your skin needs it. More in dry places, less in the oily areas. Time - 21secs.




25 And heres another... Businessman in airport lounge looking out through plate glass window at airport tarmac where airplane is visible. He puts his hand to his throat and looks at the camera with a pained expression. Small cough. Turns and walks away. Shot of plane taking off with sfx. Cut to plane interior - businessman in outside seat still touching throat and other businessman in inside seat takes off glasses and looks at him. Small cough. v/o At the first sign of an irritating sore throat you need the soothing touch of Strepsils. Shot of air stewardess offering brand pack to him. Pack shot with throat sweets in plastic wrap emerging out of box. Shot of businessman taking one and putting it in mouth. v/o Strepsils two active ingredients help fight the infections that cause sore throats. Shot of golden syrupy liquid being poured from the side of a spoon and being poured into a lozenge shape. Time - 15 secs.




29 Percentage choice of response alternatives by age bands

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