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Okay, I know all about kids. I have a couple of wonderful ones at home (wonderful most of the time that is).
Whether we like it or not, kids are prime targets for marketing and advertising. You want proof TV advertising still works? Look no further than the inevitable “Can we get that, pleeeease?” reaction while they watch their favorite shows. Talk about demand creation.
Although I am passionate about marketing, the cognitive dissonance and creepy feelings set in when I read this in my inbox today from Media Post:

Marketing Daily today introduces Engage:Kids 6-11, a newsletter dedicated to exploring this delightful demographic. Written by contributors who are experts in their fields, the articles are expected to provide guidance to marketers, especially in a turbulent economy, on the best and most effective ways to reach this group.

Doesn’t it seem smarmy to refer young kids as “A Delightful Demographic”. Are 2- 5 year-olds a Drooling Demographic, or a Cranky Cohort? I’m not sure.
Now I am sure that the intention is not to exploit the wee-ones and that the content will be above board with good advice for marketers in this category. In other words, I’m certain everything stays on the right side of the law. However, what I do know is that it does not matter that it is legally sound. Casting 6-11 year olds as “A Delightful Demographic” is the kind of stuff that sets off the industry watchdogs and we all get painted with the same brush.
Yes the world is changing and those little tykes are growing up faster than ever (doesn’t every generation say that?). And yes, there are certainly more factors that influence them today because everywhere they look there is an ad. But kids are still kids. So when the very young become a lucrative little bunch in a turbulent economy, we should question things.
My 6-11 year-olds are delightful. They are not a demographic. That is the parent in me, and the marketer in me. And hopefully you too.
All that said, this is nothing new here. Targeting kids is old school. The story of Cap’n Crunch cereal was all about marketing a breakfast product that did not yet exist to children. In the early 1960’s TV ads appeared and kids drove their parents crazy until they caved and brought home a box. Ads created a demand and they made the product. It became the number one cereal in the US for nearly a decade.
It was pure marketing and it worked.
I watched the ads in the 70’s and pestered my Mom to get that sugary goodness on our table. For that very same reason I refuse to walk down the cereal isle with my kids today. They evolved the art of begging and pleading for tooth decay to a whole new level.
So, has anything really changed? Is this a non-issue?
Do you have kids?
Do you market to kids?
What do you think?
Enjoy my old friend The Cap’n while you think about it.