advergaming — let’s get subversive

I swear, the world is getting more and more tricky.

A fish that’s been in water all its life doesn’t totally know what the entity ‘water’ is, exactly….it’s just the stuff that keeps it alive and swimming. Likewise, most of us, as children anyway, know vaguely that advertising are those 30-second mini-stories that interrupt our favorite television programs, depicting pretty people doing rather exciting and intriguing things. Billboards surround the streets, familiar logos beam at us from clothing and products like old friends – or what marketers hope will become our old friends. And as scary as most people seem to think clowns are, there’s at least one clown who’s associated with food whom most children won’t turn away from…

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, advertising is the name, and “any technically ethical way we possibly can sell it!” is the game. Multimedia, of course, has been helping the game along nicely – the newest methods? Advergames.

The idea is easy enough. Kids like games. Kids like special sorts of products. Connecting those products with games that kids love is how it’s done! Ever visited luckycharms.com? It’s a (excuse me) treasure trove of marketing at kids! Check out Postopia.com, too…..a whole bunch of cereals, all in one swell location. Not to mention Club BK at Burger King or other such web sites. These sites not only indoctrinate (yes, I used that word) young children with brands and logo identity, but also with other products or messages (Jonas Brothers, anyone?). Although fast food companies and sugary food product companies are starting to shift to messages about staying active and eating healthy – in an effort to combat damage that has been done from over-consumption of their products – advergaming sites, where children sit in front of a computer screen, playing games with brands in the background, not only encourages kids to stay indoors playing their games, but pulls them away from what kids really OUGHT to be doing – running around outside like hoodlums, squirting each other with water pistols, throwing red rubber pogo balls somewhat maliciously at one another, and scraping their knees on pavement and woodchips. You know how it should be. I know you do.

For Pete’s sake, if kids are going to be harmed by the activities they do, there at least should be some instant gratification!

What it comes down to is this:There’s a certain age when kids know they’re being advertised to, and kids who are under that age (elementary school and below) don’t yet know how to differentiate factual information and persuasive advertising. That’s not fair to kids, or their parents. marketers should just play it safe and lay off advertising unhealthy or sugary foods to kids who are too young. In the end, it’s up to a parent as to whether or not the food gets bought, but to avoid having the messages put there in the first place, saving product targeting for older kids – say, 14-15 and above – is a much better way to go…especially with childhood obesity rates on the rise…

Kids love to spend money — especially if it’s other people’s! Let them develop brand loyalty later in life…play fair, marketers. Let us hope and think that Orwell wasn’t right after all.

And believe me, those aren’t the only advergaming sites out there. It’s an interesting topic! Do your homework, and then look up a few articles….

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