by Sam Van Eman
Transcript of this recording:
Welcome to New Breed of Advertisers. The following Christmas post is called “But, MAAAaaaAAAHM!”
Parents have it rough. Toy companies market directly at kids, and the kids respond, "Yes!" while parents' wallets say "No!"
But who's to blame? The parents, for not setting good boundaries for their kids? The kids, for having low discernment skills? Or the advertisers, for putting on an irresistible show? Perhaps a little of all three.
I read an article about parents complaining to toy companies. The organization leading the push-back was Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, and they wanted ads to stop being aimed at kids. Let parents make the decisions, they said.
I like this idea, but even I want half of the toys on TV, and I'm pushing 40. Maybe it's because I only had one Star Wars action figure as a kid: no spaceships, no detailed model of a far away planet, no accompanying action-figure troops, and certainly no special effects like the kids in TV commercials had.
Commercials have come a long, tempting, way since my childhood, and kids are even more seduced now. Only the strongest could resist such an onslaught of allure. I want to say to the marketing minds behind this brilliance, "Stop sucking us in. Enough is enough. Help us to lead simple lives. Quit enticing me...er, my children!"
But my first responsibility is not to change the market. It's to curb my own desires and to teach discernment to my kids. My kids have to learn the difference between wants and needs, quality and junk, genuine interests and peer pressure. I can't protect them forever.
And what about the advertisers? They certainly carry guilt, but how much? Well, just imagine how toy advertising would change if they cared more about our kids than about profit. We might be able to say – and you might want to brace yourself for this – "Johnny, if the advertiser says it's a good toy, then it's a good toy because she loves you and wants the best for you."
Without all of us – parents, kids and advertisers – doing more than we’re doing now, Christmas will always be a commercial holiday.
Here’s to a simple, commercial-free, whine-free, generous Christmas.
Visit Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.
by Sam Van Eman