Packaged Goods: Advertising to Kids

Approx. Duration: 1 hour 19 minutes

Series - Packaged Goods

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This programme is rated PG

Targeting young people can be a gold mine for advertisers, but it is always a delicate undertaking: the rules and regulations around pitching to children are stringent. This edition of Packaged Goods will look into what works and what doesn't, what's allowed and what's not when marketing to kids, and the equally tricky task of using kids to market to adults.

Kids might not hold the purse strings in the family, but they do hold the key to their parents' hearts — and where the heart goes, the wallet will often follow. Targeting young people is important for advertisers as they wield considerable influence over household spending, and build brand loyalty early. But the very concept of advertising to kids comes with a whole heap of baggage. Stringent restrictions for TV advertising limits how and when marketers speak to a younger demographic and advocacy groups are continually lobbying for further regulations.

But TV’s not the only game in town. The internet and mobile devices are still largely unregulated, so it’s no surprise that marketer’s dollars have been gushing into branded transmedia initiatives. This poses new opportunities for children’s brands to add value to their relationship with kids and their parents, but it also poses new problems, specifically around where to draw the line.

This edition of Packaged Goods will take a strong media literacy angle starting from the first-ever TV commercial for kids and then delving into the nuances of this relatively new world of marketing. Rather than looking at the same-old, hard-sell commercials for toys, candy and junk food, we’ll explore how technology has evolved the ways that marketers are reaching their young targets, such as advergaming, branded apps, branded online ecosystems, brand content. The same products are being advertised, but do kids know it? Do they care? How does the consumption of media on a personal device rather than a TV affect how kids comprehend what they see? When is a marketer adding something genuinely positive to the relationship? What behaviour becomes exploitative? Where does the responsibility to the child lie — the marketer, parents, both?

These topics and more will be discussed with a post-presentation panel discussion.


Lana Castleman, Editor, Kidscreen/iKids

As Editor of Kidscreen/iKids, Lana Castleman oversees all editorial planning and online content for the global children's entertainment industry's leading publication, as well as its companion magazine focused on the digital media sector. Career highlights so far include having Oscar the Grouch wish her a "rotten day" and getting early peeks at a number of kids series and products before they made it big.
Lana joined Kidscreen in 2003 as a Senior Writer, quickly moving up to the post of Managing Editor in 2005 and taking over as Editor in June 2009. Prior to Kidscreen, Lana served as Associate Editor at Canada's trade magazine for the printing industry, Graphic Monthly, published by North Island Publishing. Lana holds an Honors BA and Master's degree from McMaster University.

Neil Andersen, President, Association for Media Literacy

Neil Andersen’s personal and professional interest in communications has led him to life-long learning in media and educational technology. He has taught film and/or media studies for over 30 years. He has been a computer resource teacher, helping teachers integrate technology into their curricula, and has given numerous educational keynotes and workshops across Canada, in the US, India, China, Japan and Europe.
Andersen has taught media courses for teachers at the University of Toronto, York University and at Mount Saint Vincent University. He is President of the Association for Media Literacy (Ontario).
He has made movies and videos, authored student textbooks, teacher resource books (including Scanning Television),over 200 study guides, and designed interactive CDs, websites, programs, and posters.