Advertising to Children in China

By Cheng, Hong | Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, Winter 2005 | Go to article overview

Advertising to Children in China


Cheng, Hong, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly


Advertising to Children in China. Kara Chan and James U. McNeal. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 2004. 218 pp. $33.00 hbk.

Since advertising came back to life in the Chinese mainland in 1979, it has received enormous interest from scholars in various disciplines. Numerous conference papers have been presented and many journal articles published, but bookvolume studies on Chinese advertising are of still great rarity.

The first of its kind, Advertising to Children in China is a major milestone in the study of Chinese advertising and a fine addition to children's advertising research. As a milestone, Chan and McNeal's book indicates that research on Chinese advertising has stepped into a stage of focused and in-depth studies. This work is clearly devoted to advertising targeted at the 100 million children in the urban areas of mainland China, the largest urban children population in the world. This book significantly enriches decades-long scholarly inquiry into the relationship between advertising and children. It tests existing theories and concepts on advertising and children in an entirely new market and sociocultural context.

Mainly based on the authors' recent primary studies on the Chinese mainland, this book comprises ten chapters. With the initial chapter laying down the foundation and the ending chapter summing up the essence of research findings, the other eight chapters can roughly be put into four sections. Chapters 2 through 5 investigate advertising in China from the perspectives of children aged four to fifteen, including socialization with mass media, especially television; their understanding of television advertising; their trust in television advertising; and their attention to and liking of television advertising.

In chapters 6 and 7, the authors focus their attention on parents, examining their communication with their children about consumption and advertising and parents' attitudes toward television advertising in general and children's advertising in particular. To put earlier chapters in perspective, chapter 8 is devoted to a content analysis of television commercials targeted at children on the Chinese mainland, while chapter 9 is a close examination of how advertising to children in China is regulated and self-regulated.

When I read through these chapters, several features caught my attention. First, the numerous empirical findings, mainly obtained through surveys and a content analysis, are the biggest asset of this book. These firsthand data portray a vivid picture of advertising to children in China and provide valuable consumer insights for advertisers and marketers interested in this market. …

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