The unashamed targeting of our children by giant corporations to gain the brand loyalty and pester power of kids and teenagers knows no boundaries when it comes to certain companies.
The Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood (CCFC) won a battle to put an end to ‘McTeachers night’ whereby teachers don a McDonald uniform and sell junk food and fizzy drinks to students and their families with a promise of a donation to cash-strapped schools from the junk-food giant.
Research from the CCFC revealed that the school made approximately one dollar per student from the event…whilst McDonalds gained in publicity, marketing and exposure that money can’t buy.
Could there be anything more demoralising to a teacher, someone so influential in a child’s life, someone whom children trust, learn from and can be easily influenced by, than dressing up in a McDonalds uniform to promote junk food to their students in an attempt to raise money for the school. McDonalds use of underfunded schools as a marketing opportunity shows just how low these companies are willing to go.
Coke had a similar initiative, knowing that parents are getting savvy to the unpleasant marketing targeted directly at children, decided to create ‘My CokeRewards’ in which children guzzle their way to rewards for their school. In fact, for a mere 55,000 cans of coke, a student could exchange the points for a physical activity packs for their school.
We must be aware of the way these food giants are infiltrating our children’s lives. Not only are cartoon characters splashed all over junk food products in supermarkets, but in America, Oreo are now producing counting books for schools, corporate logos appear in school gyms and at school fetes.
Once, TV adverts were the way into our children’s lives, these days the food industry knows that 73% of teenagers are online in social media groups and regularly watch YouTube and the number of younger children online is growing. Internet influencers, who children believe are their ‘friends,’ are really just stealth marketers making money and creating brand-loyal customers for life.
Our children deserve a childhood free from the ruthless targeting of these cooperate giants.
As we battle against childhood obesity and the increasing numbers of children experiencing diseases of civilisation, we must be awake to these underhand and increasingly clever marketing tactics.
The journey continues.