Opinion: The Marketing Society Forum - Is It Irresponsible to Play Up Pester Power in the Current Economic Climate?

Article excerpt

Littlewoods' Christmas TV ad has caused much disquiet in some quarters, with its implication that mums should over-stretch themselves in a time of austerity to satisfy the demands of their children.

YES - Alison Brolls, Global head of marketing planning, Nokia

Regardless of the economic climate, it is irresponsible for marketers to follow a strategy that targets children, based on pester power, encouraging them to persuade their parents to buy products. Having said that, I have not seen any recent TV advertising targeting children that falls into this category.

In this country, the marketing industry is largely self-regulated, with ASA-enforced codes and standards. As far as advertising to children is concerned, the UK is strictly regulated, and this has been a very effective way of ensuring high standards of ethics and integrity in advertising. However, for it to work, there is a duty to follow the codes and standards that we have set out and agreed to abide by - for some very good business and social reasons.

No one wants to see the rise of the nanny state, but it could be the alternative, with government legislation that would not best serve the interests of advertisers, or the right of parents to be responsible for guiding their children.

Advertisers must stick to standards and codes, but, ultimately, parents must be allowed to parent.

NO - Nir Wegrzyn Managing partner, BrandOpus

In the midst of the economic crisis, it is irresponsible for the politically correct army to suggest that there is anything wrong with retailers who stock children's toys, not to mention criticising those outlets that dare to market to their end user.

Don't they want to keep the economy alive by encouraging trade, which is so important to the retail industry, even during more optimistic financial times?

Littlewoods' 'Christmas gift ideas' is set to become the most-complained-about campaign of 2011. Beyond being a particularly bad ad, it is not really selling any of the products featured. It is an ad for credit, and children are not the target audience for finance.

A quick look at the complaints posted about the campaign told another, different story. Most viewers were concerned that Littlewoods has effectively 'killed' Santa by suggesting that mum buys the Christmas presents, unnecessarily shattering a magical illusion for many children.

Of course, the irony is that Santa was the inventor of pester power.

YES

Mark Fawcett, Chief executive, National Schools Partnership

The economic downturn is forecast to carry on for several years. …