March 13th, 2014

The effects of ads that target kids shown to linger into adulthood

The Globe and Mail

When it comes to selling foods that are high in salt, sugar or fat, there is very little debate that marketers should not target children with advertising. Even so, the logic goes, parents are still the first line of defence – it’s up to them to educate children about advertising, and ultimately steer them away from unhealthy foods. But what happens when those parents are still under the sway of the advertising they saw as children?

New research has demonstrated that when companies advertise to kids using mascots or characters, the love of the brand and feelings that the product is wholesome and healthful can persist well into adulthood. That even applies to “line extensions,” new versions of the product launched under the same brand. And the lingering effects of that advertising can hamper adults’ abilities to change their opinions of less-than-healthy brands they loved as children.

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