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Advertising and reaction

 
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Maggie AAR
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Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 2471

PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2008 9:08 am    Post subject: Advertising and reaction Reply with quote

Below is an article on toys and consumerism during these tough financial times. Don't know what my thoughts are on this but one line (at least) both disturbed me and really got me thinking.

This is the line:
Quote:
"Unfortunately, I will not be able to purchase many of the toys that my sons have asked for; we simply don't have the money," wrote Todd Helmkamp of Hudson, Ind. "By bombarding them with advertisements ... you are placing parents like me in the unenviable position of having to tell our children that we can't afford the toys you promote."


A large part of this is saying no, something that we most of us have to do even without advertising. I have known teens to ask for really unreasonable things for Christmas like trips to Paris or new cars with little to no justification. And don't parents say no to more than just material things? My son is not allowed to watch certain shows he swears his friends are allowed to watch. One mom had his second grade class in an uproar because she felt comfortable taking her seven year old to R rated films while the rest of the parents did not. More than one parent heard about the cool films Alex got to see that their own child did not. Teaching our kids to curb their desires and to let reason rule over want is part of our job, isn't it?

The article also didn't address where the little ones were seeing the ads. I can think of only one place where children are "bombarded" with advertising and that is TV. Given that teachers and doctors speak constantly of their concern regarding the number of hours many children spend glued to the tube, shouldn't the writer have at least addressed this issue?

maggie b.

Meltdown fallout: some parents rethink toy-buying
By DAVID CRARY, AP National Writer David Crary, Ap National Writer Sat Nov 29, 1:32 pm ET

NEW YORK In a season that inspires earnest letters about toys, one notable batch is being sent not by kids to Santa's workshop but by parents to the executive suites of real-world toy makers.

The message: Please, in these days of economic angst, cut back on marketing your products directly to our children.

The letter-writing initiative was launched by the Boston-based Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, which says roughly 1,400 of its members and supporters have contacted 24 leading toy companies and retailers to express concern about ads aimed at kids.

"Unfortunately, I will not be able to purchase many of the toys that my sons have asked for; we simply don't have the money," wrote Todd Helmkamp of Hudson, Ind. "By bombarding them with advertisements ... you are placing parents like me in the unenviable position of having to tell our children that we can't afford the toys you promote."

The Toy Industry Association has responded with a firm defense of current marketing practices, asserting that children "are a vital part of the gift selection process."

"If children are not aware of what is new and available, how will they be able to tell their families what their preferences are?" an industry statement said. "While there is certainly greater economic disturbance going on now, families have always faced different levels of economic well-being and have managed to tailor their spending to their means."

In recent conference calls with investors, toy company executives said they expect to suffer some holiday-season impact from the economic crisis, yet suggested their industry would be more resilient than many other sectors. The toy industry is commonly viewed as recession-resistant, due largely to the parent-child dynamic.

"Parents have trouble saying no," said Allison Pugh, a University of Virginia sociology professor. She says parents often buy toys to avoid guilt and ensure their children feel in sync with school classmates.

"Even under circumstances of dire financial straits, that's the last thing parents give up," said Pugh. "They'll contain their own buying for themselves before they'll make their child feel different at school."

Amanda Almodovar says she encounters such families in her work as an elementary school social worker in Alamance County, N.C., where homelessness and unemployment are rising.

"I had one parent who said she'd prostitute herself to get what her child wants," Almodovar said. "It's heartbreaking. They feel inadequate as parents.

"I try to tell them, worry about your home, your heating bill but they're the ones who have to look into children's faces, the children saying 'I want this, I want that.'"

Even in some households not in fiscal crisis, there's a sense that this holiday season is different.

John Schenkenfelder, a financial adviser and father of three in Louisville, Ky., wrote a blog entry this month urging families to scale down their gift-giving and spend more time playing together.

"This has been bugging me for years, even when times were great," Schenkenfelder said in a telephone interview. "Maybe people will get it this year they're so unprepared for this debacle. They're shell-shocked."

In Columbus, Ohio, Erin Beth Dower Charron has been trying to brace her 4-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter for more subdued gift-getting this year as the family begins financial belt-tightening.

"My 8-year-old is still holding out hope that Santa will get her that one special gift, but understanding this year may be different," Dower Charron said. "My son doesn't understand. Everything he sees, he wants."

Toy ads on kids' TV shows make the process harder, she said. "The onslaught seems to be more intense this year."

Dower Charron was among the hundreds of parents who took up the suggestion to write to toy companies.

"Help me understand why your toy is the better one for my child, and why it should be one of the few I can afford," she wrote. "Don't leave that up to my children."

The director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, psychologist Susan Linn, said she and her colleagues don't expect toy companies to stop advertising rather, they want the ads directed at parents.

"It's cruel to dangle irresistible ads for toys and electronics in front of kids encouraging them to nag for gifts that their parents can't afford," she said. "It's just not fair."

The big toy makers aren't likely to redirect their ads for one fundamental reason, according to Richard Gottlieb, a New York-based consultant to the industry.

"Toy companies advertise to children because it works, to be brutally honest," Gottlieb said in an interview.

Gottlieb also contends that it's good for children to encounter toy ads even in cases where products later turn out to be disappointments.

"It teaches, for very low stakes, how to navigate in our consumer culture," he said.

"They are going to have to spend the rest of their lives listening to every kind of marketing approach, and childhood is where they will learn to cope with it."

As for the economic pressure on parents, Gottlieb sounds a fatalistic note.

"Believe me, there are families with much bigger issues on their plates right now then worrying about whether their child will be unhappy because they did not get a particular toy," Gottlieb wrote in his "Out of the Toy Box" blog. "Delivering disappointment goes with the job of p
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Karen Templeton



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 298

PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2008 6:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting. Our boys (mostly grown now) have never been led to believe they'd get everything they want for Christmas or any other time. But then, they are five of them. Shocked What we've always done is put up a Christmas Wish List, informing them from the outset that they'll very likely not get everything they ask for (esp. if the list runs to twenty items!), but that the list gives us some idea of what they'd actually like, instead of blindly guessing. Then we've added a few things they're not expecting but that we think they'd like/could use.

Little kids rarely ask for really expensive stuff (a six-year-old is thrilled with a ten buck remote control car, for instance), and the older ones were simply told not to ask for something over X amount of dollars. With the constantly evolving game systems, we bought the first Nintendos and Segas as a group gift, then they generally bought the games used or borrowed from friends. Now they buy their own systems! And one game for Christmas (for the youngest, now 14) seems a reasonable treat.

But the advertising crazies have never really been an issue at our house, perhaps because they really never watched that much TV with those ads, or the stuff never really interested them that much. Sure, there have been things they've really wanted, but not to any excess that I can remember. And when a request was inappropriate, we had no qualms about nipping it in the bud before it could take root...and they were fine with it.

And you know what? Last year three of them bought ME a new (and desperately needed) laptop! Laughing

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Tee



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2008 6:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Karen Templeton wrote:
And when a request was inappropriate, we had no qualms about nipping it in the bud before it could take root...and they were fine with it.

Yes, I believe that's key. If you're honest from the outset that some things are not affordable right now, and ask them to come up with some other options as requests, they eventually "get it." But you begin early with this and not wait until your pockets are hanging inside-out of your pants before you begin explaining it.

I always told my kids they would be in the middle when it comes to anything in life. Some people will always have and get more than they will, and some will always get less. So that puts them in the middle and how bad can that be?

The only time that I can recall where I went berserk with the rest of the crowd was the year(s) that the Cabbage Patch dolls were all the craze. They were expensive and so not worth it. But both girls really wanted them. I got them, but mentally vowed to never again give in to something just because it was making the rounds, unless I felt it really was worth it.


Last edited by Tee on Mon Dec 01, 2008 8:32 am; edited 1 time in total
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Cora



Joined: 12 Mar 2008
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2008 9:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

IMO harping on the toy industry for daring to advertise their products (and who can blame them, especially considering that a lot of people are reducing expenses due to the economic climate) is hitting the wrong target here, because it is the responsibility of parents to let their kids know that they cannot have everything.

I was lucky enough to have parents who were/are fairly well off. They probably could have bought me all those expensive sneakers, brandname clothes, walkmen, primitive early videogames, that were the thing to have in highschool. But guess what? I never wanted any of those things, because they didn't interest me. I didn't even like most of the clothes, sneakers made my feet hurt and walkmen gave me headaches. And I figured getting them just to keep up with idiots at school wasn't worth it.

As for toys, yes, I admit that I occasionally fell for some well-produced toy commercials as a child. And when I asked for those toys and really wanted them, I often got them. But sometimes I didn't get them, and guess what? I survived. Plus, my parents told me that if I saved up enough money I could buy anything I wanted, even if my parents wouldn't buy it for me.

When I was very young, five or six, I really wanted a plastic smurf house. My parents didn't buy it for me, so I decided to save up for it. And with pocket money, the occasional coins from grandparents and monetary rewards my parents gave me for doing something they wanted I actually managed to raise the then colossal sum of 30 Marks and buy it (still have it, too, in the attic). My parents told me that I wanted the smurf house so bad, that I suddenly learned all sorts of new skills, e.g. riding a bike, that I previously had refused to learn, because I wanted the money. So I learned to ride a bike (useful eventually), learned the value of saving money (really useful) and got my smurf house, too.

Besides, if a family really is in dire straits financially, I don't see why they cannot sit down with their children and try to explain the situation to them. That's better than pretending everything is okay, when it isn't. Besides, most kids are reasonable and will probably scale down their wish lists to the one or two items they really want. And often those aren't the most expensive things on the list.

Finally, is toy advertising really so pervasive in the US? Because I hardly ever see toy commercials anymore, unless you include videogame commercials. Of course, I don't watch childrens' TV, but before Christmas we used to get toy commercials even during primetime programming.
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Beth W



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PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2008 10:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Advertisers perhaps go overboard, but it absolutely drives me NUTS that many parents seem unable to say "no" to their kids. I don't think kids should get everything they want, even if the parents CAN afford it. Ask kids what they want, sure, but be sure they understand it's not all going to come. That's how I was raised, and I was fine with it as well.

Parents who think saying "no" to their children will scar them for life drive me up the wall.
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Donna Lea Simpson



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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2008 8:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am blessed with a mother who absolutely refused to buy anything advertised on TV. (smart cookie) I got dolls and books, etc, for Christmas, but never anything extravagant. (too many kids, too little money)

Once I did get something I begged for, something they made look so enticing and fun in TV ads, I cried and whined (not something I usually did) and my mother broke down and bought it (not something she usually did).

It was Barrel of Monkeys, the stupidest, dullest game ever invented to trick children out of money. My mom was right, and I grew up loving books and inventing games with my friends, instead.
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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2008 11:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can recall, as a youngster, wanting a Tonka truck for Christmas. I can't recall whether they were expensive, but the Teamsters' Union was out on strike that year so I suppose cost was a factor. Regardless, the disappointment of not getting it was so extreme, that when my children
(and now grandchildren) reached the age of 5, whether male or female, they got (or get) a Tonka truck. The one I got my son was so sturdily built I used it to move the side-by-side refrigerator.
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Cora



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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2008 9:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh yes, I got a lot of things my parents wanted for Christmas when they were kids in the deprived war and immediate postwar area. Hence, I got tricycles, bicycles, ice skates, rollerskates and the like. The only problem was that I wasn't a physically very active person and wasn't interested in all those things. I would have been much happier with a doll, a plushtoy or a book.

Though occasionally there is that one toy you really wanted, didn't get and never forget for some reason. My big one was a doll dressed like an Egyptian princess, which was deemed too expensive for a five-year-old. I even went as far as trying to find that doll years later, which proved to be impossible. Eventually, I ended up buying a Madame Alexander Salome doll (also hugely expensive for me at the time) as a substitute.
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Charlotte McClain



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PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2008 8:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it's an important learning experience for kids to know they can't have everything they want. If they got it, imagine their credit cards as adults!
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Cora



Joined: 12 Mar 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2008 8:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the really important lesson to learn is that things cost money and that money isn't a limitless supply. Most debt problems, whether related to credit cards or mortgages, are the result of people not realizing that money is not unlimited and spending more than they earn.
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LisaW



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PostPosted: Thu Dec 11, 2008 4:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Beth W wrote:


Parents who think saying "no" to their children will scar them for life drive me up the wall.



IMO, it's the opposite (saying "yes") that will scar them. I have friends who divorced after over 20 years together. He'd complain they never had any money and she kept explaining that bailing his daughter out (they both came into the marriage with 2 kids each -- both had 1 boy, 1 girl) was taking their extra cash. The fact that she was making low-to-mid 6 figures and he was drawing mid-5 figures didn't make her a happy camper, either (i.e., it was her money that was going to the daughter and her druggie hubby).

So, now they are divorced. He still has no money (and no job after son-in-law took cash he'd collected from customers to turn into his employers), daughter still not able to make it -- even with a nursing degree and a decent job -- when her husband doesn't work and does drugs.

Her kids are both married with children. Nice houses. Good jobs. Decent savings. They didn't do without as kids -- both sets of kids got everything they needed and a lot of what they wanted growing up -- just not everything they demanded. It was more the attitude of the parents and how they handled things.
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Kitkat



Joined: 25 Jun 2009
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 11, 2009 9:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it is really unhealthy that the culture of "blame other people but ourselves" is so widespread in our society today.

To blame toy manufacturers for advertising their products which put parents under presuress to buy a "must-have" toys is just like blaming McDonald's for selling burgers causing us all being overweighted, it is not only unfair, it is misguided. The chice to buy and not to buy a product be it a burger or a toy rest entirely on the parents and nobody else.

I have to defend the toy manufacturers and advertsiers for their rights to promote their products to make sure their companies keep on going and making a good profit. Please don't forget toy manufacturers and toy shops as well as advertising agencies and market research companies employ thousands of employees and they too have the right to keep their jobs and be able to buy their sons and daughters what they want.
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Diana



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PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2009 12:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cora wrote:
IMO harping on the toy industry for daring to advertise their products (and who can blame them, especially considering that a lot of people are reducing expenses due to the economic climate) is hitting the wrong target here, because it is the responsibility of parents to let their kids know that they cannot have everything.


That's the truth. We could afford to buy my daughter a lot of what she wanted but we did make choices and required her to make choices as well. One thing I gave in on against my better judgment was the My Little Pony Paradise Estate (yecchhh!) that she decided was the one thing she wanted for Christmas when she was about 5. We stayed up most the night Christmas Eve putting together this plastic monster with thousands of decals that had to be placed just so. She did love it and played with it for years but damn it was an eyesore and took up too much space. While having dinner with my daughter and son-in-law recently, I realized from the turn in conversation that she was workin' him over something she thought they needed to buy. I looked my s-i-l in the eye and said "You know she's conned you into believing that she got everything she wanted when she was growing up. Just say no!"
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