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Those Pesky Marketers!

In the run up to Christmas, I was asked to give my view (from a marketing perspective) about Pester Power on BBC Radio Stoke.  I had overnight to think about how I was going to approach this discussion, I found it very thought provoking which I’ll share with you now.

My first instinct was to defend the Marketers about the advertising and promotional activities they undertake for their product range, after all the festive season is the prime time of the year when people will be buying toys, games and gifts for the children in their lives and they are only doing their job!  Manufacturers, distributors, retailer all need to make sales to survive and they will have targets and pressures to ensure their product is one that people want to buy this year.

My next thought was to look at it from the parents point of view and how difficult and frustrating it must be when their child sees the adverts and decides they must have that toy.   It’s a natural reaction to then blame the companies involved, and of course those pesky marketers for causing the earache from their children, and adding to the pressures they may have already on the household budget.

So what did I say during the interview?   I focussed initially on the Marketers and felt I should point out that there is a UK Code of conduct in Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing, known as The CAP Code that companies do need to adhere to. 

The Advertising Standards Authority monitors activity and are strict with organisations that don’t comply.   The Code includes guidelines on:

  • safeguarding - the advertising must not encourage children to enter strange places or talk to strangers.
  • perception – it must not make a child feel inferior, unpopular, lack courage, duty or loyalty for not buying the advertised product (or encouraging others to buy it). It also must not exaggerate what is attainable by a child using the product.
  • characteristics – it must be made easy for the size and performance of the product to be seen and for children to distinguish between reality and fantasy
  • permission – that adult authorisation must be obtained before the child commits to buying complex or costly items
  • susceptibility – it must not exploit the innocence / vulnerability of children’s reaction to charitable appeals and explain the extent to which their participation will help with any charity-linked promotions.
  • pressure – it must not actively encourage children to make a nuisance of themselves to parents (or others) and must not undermine parental authority.

I also commented that I felt as a nation we should be stronger in managing our children’s expectations.  Without taking away their childhood it is possible to make them understand from a young age the value of money and that we can’t always get what we want.  An invaluable life lesson we can all give that won’t cost the earth.

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Warrington Youth Club
Dave McNicholl, Chief Executive
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