Advertisers And Our Children

by: Anthony Keith Whitehead

Some of the most important Christian principles which we try to pass on to and establish in our children are under threat of being very effectively destroyed by advertisers and their paid assistants, advertising agencies. The latter design, implement and propagate the products of their clients.
And it is we as parents and grandparents who are to blame for their success and for the inroads made into the protecting cover of our principles.
Although this must inevitably be a brief discussion, a wide consideration of these and related matters can be found in “The Path To Freedom” at http://www.christianword.co.uk
Advertising Objectives
The objectives of virtually all advertisers is to dominate the minds of we the consumers. That sounds somewhat extreme. But it is not that each individual advertiser seeks total control of all minds. Any given advertiser is only interested in that part of our separate minds to which his products or services seek to appeal. Individual advertisers would “throw up their arms in protest” at the suggestion of their seeking total influence. And quite rightly.
But there are thousands of them – and each one is seeking to control a part of our behaviour i.e. that part which relates to the sales of his product. Of course, some are much more powerful and effective at it than others. But collectively the sum that adds up to a highly significant realm of influence.
Common Philosophies
Moreover, virtually all advertisers have the same basic, underlying, or even overt materialistic philosophy. This is endemic to the way they approach their marketing activity. Hence thousands of individual organisations are ALL effectively propagating the same anti-Christian philosophy to all of us.
Objective Children
Companies which are new and strapped for cash often find themselves taking crude and short term approaches to advertising. But the large corporations, flooded with financial resources and often operating in many different markets, and selling a multiplicity of products and services, can afford to take long term views and adopt highly sophisticated approaches.
“Get ’em while they’re young” has been modified slightly but significantly into “Get at ’em while they’re young”.
Again, the individual corporation/advertiser would feign horror at the suggestion that it was corrupting the Christian values of our young children. One advertising campaign does not a cesspool make, no doubt.
But it is not the influence of the one which matters. It is the combined influence of the many. That accumulated influence is very considerable – and especially in its influence on young minds.
Indeed, there are two important aspects here. One is that young minds are unformed minds. So when we as parents allow advertisers access to them, we inevitably and unavoidably allow them to bring a considerable power to influence their young minds and on their formation.
What is the essence of that formation? It is to inculcate a process of the acquisition of materialistic attitudes and systems of thought. In short: to promote values which are commonly at variance with those taught us by Jesus.
>From a very early age we are allowing our kids to have their choices determined for them by people we ourselves, confronted by a specific situation, would never allow near us. They are people whose principle objective in life is to make profit by convincing our children that they cannot possibly be happy in life without their product – whether it is a particular kind of cereal, footwear, coat or whatever.
In fact, most parents are aware that the influence of advertising has gone so far that their children are likely to be subject to ridicule at school if they do not have the brand which is “acceptable” this season. Some will be aware that their children will be “rubbished” for parents shopping at down market stores.
All this brings us to the second important aspect. Children themselves do not usually have significant personal spending power. In this sense they are “secondary consumers”: they consume only through their parents spending potential.
So advertisers work on this. Crudely or sophisticatedly, their objective is to bring a not inconsiderable persuasive power on kids to determine their parents preferences.
Parent Gullibility
Are parents so gullible? Of course. For at least two reasons. Firstly, we have ourselves been persuaded so successfully by the direct influence of advertisers that we really expect our children to succumb to the same and to want the same as other people are buying.
Secondly, and with a direct link to the first reason, we really do consider, at least at a subconscious level, that what our children have been made to believe by the advertisers is actually the best for them!
When we look at this in the cold light of reason it is clear and obvious nonsense. But we rarely use the cold light of reason. Advertisers don’t like it at all – let alone the instructive light of the Christian’s Spirit.
We sometimes take a perverse sense of superiority in what our children are led by advertisers to demand: “Oh, our John/Mary will simply not have a coat/jumper/cereal/shoes without such-and-such a brand on them”. We think they are developing so marvelously when they exhibit such “adult” attitudes and values which we, however unrealisingly, have ourselves come to regard as important.

About The Author

Anthony Keith Whitehead

Web Site: http://www.christianword.co.uk

email: akw@christianword.co.uk

Experience: Over twenty years in Christian healing, teaching and writing.

Qualifications: B.A., M.Phil., Cambridge University Certificate in Religious Studies.
Conditions of use: This article may be reproduced on condition that it is unaltered and that all this information is included.

This article was posted on August 22, 2005