The Nature of Advertising
A large amount of children's television viewing consists of programs aimed at an adult audience, and therefore much of the advertising children see is intended for adults. However, because children are not so interested in products for adults, they are less likely to pay attention to them. Thus, research on advertising and children has focused on commercials designed specifically for the child audience. These advertisements are most likely to attract children's interest and affect their behavior (Kunkel, 2001).
Many common assumptions are made about advertising to children, particularly in terms of the products most frequently advertised and in relation to issues of food, stereotyping, and the possibly misleading techniques advertisers use. Recently, other forms of promotion such as sponsorship and merchandising have become increasingly frequent, although there is as yet less research on these from the perspective of children's understanding compared with traditional television advertising. In this chapter, the nature of advertising to children is explored, looking at these new developments but also investigating more traditional concerns. Important issues such as food and stereotyping in advertising are introduced here, and their implications for children are addressed in more detail in chapter eight. First, the general nature of advertising to children is explored, focusing on the product ranges most frequently advertised.