I’ve noted here before that smart marketers are talking to moms because women tend to hold the majority of the buying power in families. Children’s advertising is, of course, designed to encourage kids to ask their parents for certain products.
A lot of companies in the business of selling their product to children– or getting the kids to make the ask – are moving into social territory. These companies may want to take heed of some lessons learned by bigger companies who have taken the plunge.
Some kids these days are pretty smart, and are being taught that they are allowed to ask tough questions too. Child activists are using the new world of social media to make their voices louder.
No company is immune.
McDonald’s is, potentially, the biggest of them all when it comes to marketing to kids. At a 2013 shareholders’ meeting the CEO of the fast food giant faced a 9-year-old girl at the microphone. She told him he should stop tricking kids into trying to eat McDonald’s food all the time, he came back with a non-response. Guess who got all the publicity in that exchange?
When Lego decided to create pink products to market to girls, moving away from the gender-neutral multi-coloured blocks they faced a tirade from feminist media all over the world. What of that battle got the most attention? Letters from young girls. The problem was not with the pink and purple blocks. These girls had a problem with what these new Lego sets let girls do – instead of using their imagination to build whatever they felt like, the new pink Friends set stuck them in specific scenarios.
Any decision a company makes can bring them under fire in the world of social media, and when a kid is the one asking the questions there is almost guaranteed worldwide news coverage.