YCC Magazine

Vol.3 #2

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19 What is "marketing to kids"? You don't fall for marketing tricks, do you? You make your own decisions, without being influenced by marketing, right? The fact is, marketing influences all of us. It is all around us, affects us in ways we don't even realize. It impacts much of what we buy – especially what we eat and drink. Think of all those red or blue signs for a certain brand of sugary soda or those golden arches or a certain smiley Colonel. You likely know what those brands are, so the marketing has done its work. Just a quick description made you think about the logo, or your favourite products that the company offers or the way those brands make you feel. Kids – not just teenagers but even children as young as three – are vulnerable to food and beverage marketing and marketers know young people can be easily influenced without even being aware they are. It's not by accident that sugary cereals and other products that kids like are branded with loveable-looking cartoon characters, cuddly animals, bright colours and fun packaging. That's strategic age-targeted marketing. Today, thanks to technology and social media, companies can be very sophisticated in targeting youth with just the right-looking and appealing marketing campaign, specific to a certain age group. For example, teens see something appealing, ads that create a sense of freedom, coolness or belonging; while younger children can be persuaded to want sugary cereals by their favourite characters like Dora the Explorer or Lightning McQueen. The messages can also be refined according to where you live, whether you are a boy or a girl, even to your specific interests based on what other websites you've visited or things you've "liked" on social media. Actually, in 2010, World Health Organization called on countries to take action to address the large amount of marketing of food and beverages to children. A number of leading health organizations and experts have studied the issue and found that unhealthy food and beverage marketing surrounds kids in their everyday lives – from bus stops to libraries and schools, from TV to tablets, from apps to online education resources. What's the problem? You might ask, "what's the problem? It's good if I get advertising that's meaningful to me rather than all sorts of junk that's not. Then I'll make my own decisions." Well, first, marketing influences kids (and adults too) in ways they aren't even aware of, making it difficult to make an informed or unbiased choice. Second, most of the food Marketing of unhealthy food and drinks is everywhere – kids are targeted starting at a very young age and it doesn't stop It's been a very successful tactic – for the food and drink companies For kids, it's an unfair battle that manipulates them, negatively affects their health and puts them at risk for a lifetime of health problems The good news: Canada is moving to restrict it nationwide

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