By Abrahams, Guy
This weekend, I'll be taking Celeste, aged four and three-quarters, to see Santa. When he asks her what she wants, her answer will reflect the many influences in her life.
One of these influences, TV advertising to children (and for toys in particular), is under threat. The likes of Hillary Clinton and Gordon Brown have called for its abolition and the Swedish government proposes an EU-wide ban. However, this ban is misguided, as it is more likely to damage children and the parental pockets it is trying to protect.
To ban TV toy advertising power, since current commercials tend to be classic examples of lowest common denominator global advertising. They offer little inspiration or persuasion and their only role seems to be to inform children of the simple existence of a toy. A recent survey from Logistix Kids supports this, reporting that seven- to 14-year-olds' favourite ads are for Budweiser and Halifax rather than Action Man and Barbie. So if we really are serious about protecting children, we should consider banning ads featuring Budweiser lizards before Buckaroo.
Television and film merchandise tie-ins are the items most demanded by children. This year, Celeste will be asking Santa for Art Attack stuff to replace last year's requests for Tweenies. Yet no politician or right-minded parent would dream of calling for a ban on Harry Potter or Sesame Street The problem for parents at Christmas is not having to buy TV-advertised toys, but being first in the queue for Hogwarts castle.
TV-advertised toys will always struggle against their merchandised cousins: 30 seconds of advertising will more often or not lose out to 30 minutes of 'advertising' provided by a merchandised programme. …