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I found this article very interesting on several points. It looks at the effects of advertising on very young children ages 3 to 5 years old. Children are given identical food, some in plain wrappers and some in McDonald’s wrappers. The food and the McDonald’s wrappers and was chosen over the plain wrap food by most children.
“Study author Dr. Tom Robinson said the kids’ perception of taste was “physically altered by the branding.” ….
The study involved 63 low-income children ages 3 to 5 from Head Start centers in San Mateo County, Calif. Robinson believes the results would be similar for children from wealthier families.”
These two quotes made me think of my students vs. the children in my family. The student in my school seem much more branded then the children in my family. I see parents bought a regular basis bring fast food into this school for their child’s lunch. In some families this is it everyday occurrence.
With my four year old cousin and almost three year old niece fast food is much less frequent. I would call it an infrequent treat happening and maybe a few times a year. It is more likely to happen when traveling between cities in Texas, because it may be the only food available for a long stretch of highway. If a local restaurant is available in would always be chosen over a fast food place. My sister and brother in law and my cousins (parents of the four year old) a very health conscious any better than most people I know.
Also for your old cousin and three year old niece or expose too much less commercial television than my students are. PBS and DVDs are the main form of entertainment cousin niece see. When they do watch commercial television, it is DVR’d and commercials are skipped. My kindergarten students talk much more about commercial television. Their older brothers and sisters seemed generally unfamiliar with the idea of the DVR.
I’d be very interested to see the results of a similar study focusing on higher income children to see if there were similar results.
“Just two of the 63 children studied said they’d never eaten at McDonald’s, and about one-third ate there at least weekly. Most recognized the McDonald’s logo but it was mentioned to those who didn’t.”
Around 21 of these kids ate in McDonald’s weekly, again I wonder if you have similar statistics with a different income group. I know in our social workers classes she has to persuade the parents that is at a cheaper to buy fresh meat, fruit and vegetables then to go by McDonald’s or other processed foods for each meal.
Pradeep Chintagunta, a University of Chicago marketing professor, said a fairer comparison might have gauged kids’ preferences for the McDonald’s label versus another familiar brand, such as Mickey Mouse.
“I don’t think you can necessarily hold this against” McDonald’s, he said, since the goal of marketing is to build familiarity and sell products.
He noted that parents play a strong role in controlling food choices for children so young.
But Robinson argued that because young children are unaware of the persuasive intent of marketing, “it is an unfair playing field.”
I’m wondering why Robinson feels that the young children are the ones that have to be aware of the persuasive intent of marketing. Isn’t it the parent’s job to be aware of marketing techniques and protect the children from them? We’re expecting three year olds to be informed consumers? That seems a little unrealistic to me. If a three year old is making major decisions such as nutrition in a household, the problems in that household are deeper than McDonald’s advertising.