Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Advertising & Toy Popularity

Watch any children’s TV program, and catch a few commercials in between, and you can predict what your kids, nieces, or nephews will be adding to their birthday or Christmas wish lists. Fads spread among children as fast as the common cold. Behind each craze, there is usually a carefully constructed marketing campaign, geared to grab the attention of anyone within range of a television, radio, or store display.
By its very nature, advertising aims to make a product or service as visible and memorable as possible, including children’s toys. American children are notorious for their regular television viewing, and companies seize on that opportunity to kick-start the latest toy trends. Promotions aren’t limited to just commercials, though; in addition to hearing a 30-second spot on how awesome a new dollhouse or action figure is, they may also see their favorite TV show character playing with it, and proclaiming how he or she can’t live without it.
It would be nice if children’s toys rose in popularity due to educational value or reduced environmental impact, but it is very rare that these types of worthwhile reasons factor into the skyrocketing demand for a certain toy. What matters to the vast majority of kids is who has what, and what they are being told is “cool”—and modern marketing strategists seize this as an opportunity to profit. Simply put, a toy becomes popular because kids are bombarded with it and told they need it.
If promotional messages focused more on educational, eco-friendly toys, children would begin to believe these are absolutely necessary. Kids are largely influenced by their surroundings: change the advertising, and they will follow.

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