Consuming Kids: Hostile Takeover

susan lynn is an extraordinary teacher artist writer clinician and activist she will tell us tonight about her new book consuming kids a book combining careful scholarship and thoughtful observations on the impact of marketing to young children a research is letter to see that the marketing of commercial products to very young children 1 and 2 year olds runs a large risk of limiting their imaginations in some instances advertising hasn’t sneered these young children and co-opted them into becoming consumers at far too young an age yet she observes that this whole process is almost totally unexamined either by traditional academic scholarship or by parents themselves the question she poses is this in the best interest of children has not been addressed by anyone before the appearance of consuming kids as the book unfolds she examines who profits from the marketing of products to young children and discusses food marketing glorification of violence and sexual stereotypes present in advertising she cogently argues that we cannot avoid the we cannot ignore the effects these forces are having on very young children she compels us to think about what should be done to protect children from the effects of marketing her profound commitment to the dignity and value of children’s imaginations and imaginative play is the place from which he stands and mounts this powerful and telling critique now I will leave it to Susan to tell you about the book and about the fundamental convictions that shine through so powerfully but the book did not suddenly appear last year it’s the natural evolution of years of work that susan has done I’ve had the privilege of knowing her and watching her as this work has evolved so i thought i would tell you a little bit about that development and in the first phase i would say Susan as artist she started out as an extraordinary artist and remains an artist to this day she’s a ventriloquist of the first order and an imaginative creator of clay for children she began as a we’re at the book line puppet theatre even to this day still gives many performances to children she’s created characters Audrey and cattle ion in particular large hand puppets that are persons in their own right now rather than clumsily my describing Audrey and cattle and I understand that Audrey will make an appearance later tonight so I’ll let her speak for herself but I would say that I not only have I learned a great deal from Susan over the years but I’ve also learned a great deal from Audrey she’s performed internationally with her puppets probably the figure in the American media who’s had the most positive effect on the imaginations of young children is Fred Rogers Susan and Fred Rogers had mr. Rogers have had a lot have a long and very successful collaboration and Susan is the only puppeteer ever to appear on mister rogers neighborhood from an earlier point she was trying to engage children not just in watching artistic creations but in creating their own and she was particularly drawn to children facing adversity I first met Susan in 1976 when she came to Children’s to do puppet therapy with children there and I was assigned as her supervisor it very clearly and quickly became evident that I was not the supervisor but a student of this remarkably creative person as she engaged young children in play about what they were undergoing as they faced cardiac catheterization cardiac surgery treatment for cancer and other things and I think what was remarkable is that she took a set of puppets with her as she worked with these children children put them on and play out what had been done to hit them they suddenly gave IVs to doctors they suddenly talked to parents in unser in very certain ways and clearly even in the face of such remarkable stresses these children used play as a way to master and cope with things and so that sense that play can in fact be the work of childhood and lead to the mastery of the developmental challenges was certainly evident there and is evident in all of Susan’s work since a second powerful theme in Susan’s work is scholarship in terms of formal education she trained at the Boston University School of Fine Arts and received a ba summa laude from the University of Massachusetts in Boston in she then received a master’s in education from this program at Harvard and then came to work at Children’s she served as a psychology intern at dana-farber and also a staff psychologist there she returned to Harvard in the late 80s graduating with distinction with a doctorate in education in counseling psychology in

1990 she’s not written many things but has used many other vehicles to get the message across she took on a set of very tough psychological issues and developed videos to deal with them that have been widely used a program with McLean Hospital on issues of mental illness and parents a program called by mom still loves me has been very successful she worked with the Institute for mental health initiatives and was the producer writer and featured performer on a video about anger control take another look learning to rethink anger she did about a program about children with cancer I am still me and many others currently she’s working with young children of aids some of whom know that they have any some of whom dope all of whom have parents with AIDS again taking all the most difficult challenges and staying with the child and with the imagination of the child but as her she is matured her work has grown in 1994 she became the associate director of the media center at judge Baker children’s center at along without Posadas director and has continued to use the media and ways to bring to the fore issues that are central and children’s experience one of the most interesting of these is a set of videos entitled different in the same produced in conjunction with Fred Rogers these confront core dilemmas of race and class and Prejudice and children in many ways they start out similar to the moral dilemmas that Lawrence Kohlberg posed or the interpersonal dilemmas that Bob selman posed that in addition to dilemmas provide resolutions examples of peers or kindly adults who help children through in one Cinderella and me audrey wants to be Cinderella in a play but cannot because as she says Cinderella doesn’t look like me now and yet as you might expect they work it out and she can be Cinderella these short pieces represent a crystallization of years of work by Susan as an activist as someone deeply committed to confronting racism and as someone who was one of the few white students in the grammar schools and urban Detroit this work has made a large difference in children’s lives she announces on write a regular column for Anna Family Education Network about such topics as raising our children free of prejudice surviving television advertising talking about Internet safety and of relevance to all of you how to avoid an overbooked school year so she’s written many articles for learning journals and much like different in the same she a now conceived and created a wonderful idea for children’s television show about an interracial soccer team in Boston Willoughby’s wonders she’s won many awards will of these wonders one to New England Emmys different and the same on a silver Hugo and a gold plaque at the international communication film and video competition and the secret should be told what an acct Award for achievement in children’s television she’s been named Entertainer of the Year by the Boston parents paper and has far more honors than I can possibly list along with her art along with her entry into the imaginations of children and along with the willingness to confront the crucial unspeakable social problems of our time she has been an activist she founded a movement to try to confront the media and young children the coalition to stop commercial exploitation of children it’s developed a network of sharing information has led very successful demonstrations against the gold of marble Awards which are awards for successful advertising to young children and she in this organization is trying to develop a grant for its movement to lead to better regulation of advertise two children she’s a wonderful friend a great teacher a terrific parent and has been a great companion to many of us both children and adults on the difficult journey to try to both understand the world of children and to make it better for them it is my great pleasure to introduce dr. Susan Lyne author of consuming kids Thank You Phil I can’t tell you what an honor it is to be introduced by you and also what a profound of that Q pad on my work thank you I also want to thank Shawne Tuttle for organizing us tonight and my editor at the new press Ellen Reeves who came up from New York on who by the way is the editor that every first author dreams of having so thank you well the poet I’m going to move from the podium in a minute but the poet Kenneth Rexroth says against the ruin of the world there

is only one defense the creative act and whenever I get really discouraged about the enormous problem of marketing to children I think about that and in some ways that’s really what keeps me going the importance of acting creatively and of taking a stand but it also helped me when I thought about how I was going to do my presentation tonight and it made me think that I would go back to my roots and as go sad I began as a ventriloquist so I thought I’d bring Audrey duck out to help me talk about marketing to kids right here she is that’s a fog silliman dr. Stillman nice to see you dr. Weiss board so many people hmm dr. beer it’s me that’s right dr. Reeves cousin reads but that’s right what are we doing here uh-oh what’s the matter are we here to talk about your book consuming kids the hostile takeover of childhood was that in hand for Tyson yeah I kind of actually it was yes Audrey we’re here to talk about my book consuming kids the hostile takeover of childhood I don’t like it but that’s great Audrey I mean Here I am you know people might even buy it afterwards I’m supposed to be signing things and you’re going to tell them that you don’t like it I tell the truth okay what is it that you don’t like about my book I’m not in it how could you write a book and i’m not even in it and you ignore me the whole time i mean i was stuck in my bag and you are writing a book and I’m not in it your inner peripheral e what is happening I mean hardly at all I bet it’d be in the next one you’re in the next one don’t worry you’re in the next one anyway I don’t get it what don’t you get I don’t get why you’re so upset about marketing to children odd remarketing is a factor in just about every problem the children have today it’s a factor in childhood obesity it’s a factor in eating disorders it’s a factor in family stress that’s a factor in excessive materialism and precocious irresponsible sexuality in in violence youth violence what’s your point if it hurts kids yeah but Susan look I might take childhood obesity I mean I’ve been advertised things I’ve been bombarded by advertising and I’ve never eaten one thing that I’ve seen advertised on television quadron you can ever eaten anything oh that’s a difference the difference is you’re a puppet you’re impervious there you go with those words again means that nothing changes you nothing nothing gets to you but children are different children are living breathing developing human beings and they’re affected by their environment and they are inundated with marketing and it does make a difference to them and that’s what I’m going to talk about today am I going to talk about it till you might be able to come out later but at the moment I’m going to put you back there you go again ignoring me you’ve got to go back okay bye-bye all right children are bombarded with advertising and marketing from the moment they wake up in the morning the moment to the moment they go to bed at night and the marketing that you remember from your childhood is not the same as the marketing that kids are exposed to today and comparing at you it’s like comparing a BB gun to a smart bomb today the marketing that that reaches children is honed by child psychologist it’s brought to us by billions of dollars in an incredibly sophisticated media technology it’s not the same now usually people think about advertising they think about commercials but in fact it’s really gone beyond that and if my powerpoint really works we’ll see i’m going to show you what i mean amazing okay can you guys see that it’s awfully high okay it’s all fine all right oh

okay so beyond commercials marketing children the 21st century so you see it’s not just commercials and i’m going to show you examples of lots of different kinds of advertising but i want to tell you about some that i don’t have pictures of for instance one thing that’s very popular nowadays is stealth marketing have you heard of stealth marketing it’s very big in advertising today it’s marketing in ways that you don’t even know so you don’t even know you’re being marketed to for instance there is a company called the GI a the girls intelligence agency that has co-opted pajama parties for girls what they do is amuse girl’s pajama parties especially like preteens early teens to do market research without the girls really understanding that’s what they’re doing and they do this they had this it’s called pajama party in a box and they send the girls a box of products and they get the girls to use the products to try the products and encourage the girls to take a video of themselves doing that what they’re telling the advertisers who work with them is they say you can get into the enemy camp we can get you into the girls bedrooms that’s what that’s the pitch to the advertisers so the girls send the video back to the GI a and then they show it to the advertisers who get to watch these girls and all of the products you know that they’re using meanwhile they have these secret agents that are sort of like big sisters to the girls and the girls check in with the secret agents once a week or a couple times a week they get advice from the secret agents who sort of pose as Big Sisters except really what they’re doing is market research their act asking the girls you know what they like what they don’t like the jda tries to get girls who are kind of cool was that trends the girls you know feel like they’re being you know important they really like it a lot so there’s the GI a that’s stealth marketing and then there’s procter gamble really like stealth marketing there is something called tremors that’s that actually pays kids to market to their friends and pays teenagers to you know sell / to tout products not really to sell them but to tout products to their friends and you think what this is doing to children’s friendships I mean what does it do to trust you know I mean you’re not really supposed to tell your friends that you’re being paid to market these things you know what if the due to trust what about pajama parties you know which used to be needs to be able to just have kids old / maybe you’d they cookies you know maybe watch a movie I mean who knows you do something but now you know you got to have these products so that what the marketing industry is doing it’s not just commercials they’re really infiltrating the fabric of childhood in 1992 corporations spent about six billion dollars marketing to children that double by 1997 it was about 12 billion and the last figure i saw was that corporations are spending 15 billion dollars a year marketing to children 15 billion dollars and it’s a huge amount of money so you know it’s not just commercials it’s also stealth marketing and viral marketing which is just basically word of mouth that’s the other thing the music industry likes to do this a lot they like to kind of co out word of mouth because they don’t leave anything to chance but what they do is go into neighborhoods you know and ask for the coolest kid you know the girl run saying two kids who is are you the who is the coolest kid and the kid will say oh it’s so and soul to go to sell him sell and so on say oh yeah it’s so insulting over the next person finally if I get to the kid who said it’s me I’m the coolest kid and and then they’ll you know give the coolest kid you know CDs you know products in a ways you know things to give away to his friends and again it’s a way of co-opting what used to be left to chance or left to really kids preferences word of mouth so there’s no such thing as a word of mouth it’s really sort of word of corporation at this point so one of the one of the ways that corporations really like to market kids today they like to do promotions and promotions are when products are associated with media programs or with so you on you’ve seen lots of those so for instance the cat in the hat but it’s this way yeah The Cat in the Hat a terrible movie by the way but that’s irrelevant it came out last year it was affiliated or associated with over 40

brands of products for tea brands were associated with the Cat in the Hat you know Kellogg’s MasterCard oh it’s being a MasterCard do you know hello kitty do you know those little kids thinks hello kitty in this well hello kitty is now a credit card that’s you know what they really want to do is you know get kids in the habit of spending it’s really important that we spend our money they want to get kids in the habit of span spending so they have a credit card for kids as young as tell although they’re hoping that maybe it can go a little lower I just read about that in Washington excuse me in the Washington Post so um hello kitty is a credit card now um free tool and Pepsi well it’s the same company and then all these cleaners because you know the Cat in the Hat there’s this whole thing about cleaning in the Cat in the Hat so all these cleaning products you might wonder why would they advertise cleaning products to kids well for two reasons they want the kids get nag their parents you know to ask for them and that’s the first thing and the second thing is what they want they want cradle-to-grave brand loyalty when i read about marketing literature that’s what they talk about cradle to grave brand Laurent loyalty so you know the notion is if you get a kid in childhood you’ll have that kid for life so you know if they get kids you know associating Febreze with the cat and a half will start to have nice feelings about it and you know I mean in some ways that works i mean i still use the toothpaste i used as a kid gonna do and it wasn’t tom’s of maine either you know okay so there’s the cat in the hat but you know it’s not just that the cat in the hat and the cotton hats only one movie i mean i could have shrek 2 up here or you know any film an emo any any children’s film i could have up here where harry potter all these promotions and all of you products so the cabinet had it wasn’t just promotions it’s also brand licensing and you probably know about that too brand licensing is when you know a media company usually it’s a media company sells a logo or a character to other companies to be able to use on boxes and you know that kind of thing it or in its products so here’s the Cat in the Hat I mean that’s just from one website I counter 180 products on one website and there’s probably thousand products that came with that movie all the sad sated with the Cat in the Hat so the cat in hat becomes an advertisement for all these other products it’s not a movie it’s not just art it’s an advertisement and you know the idea is you take your child to see The Cat in the Hat and then you take your child to the grocery store and there’s all these cat and hat products most of which aren’t very good for you the food industry is very fond of brand licensing now when I tape six hours of Nickelodeon and I counted 40 food commercials over the course of six hours which is a lot of food commercials but what that doesn’t include the program’s themselves and the program’s themselves are advertisements for products and this is even true on PBS I mean there are some wonderful programs on PBS but it’s not commercial free it might be commercial light but it’s not commercial free so you know programs on PBS Sesame Street you know um has McDonald’s as a sponsor when Teletubbies was on they had promotions with both McDonald’s and Burger King Arthur has Juicy Juice I mean it’s just kind of endless so even those programs are really advertising and on PBS mostly it’s advertising for food and for food products and mostly its food that’s not good for you so that leads to things like this SpongeBob SquarePants was crafts top-selling macaroni and cheese in 2002 and the father told me recently that his five-year-old daughter said to him that SpongeBob’s correct pants macaroni and cheese really does taste better absolutely really does taste better than anything else so I thought that was interesting so here’s spongebob squarepants crafts top Philly macaroni and cheese and here is spongebob squarepants as food you have to remember these programs and Rugrats isn’t just a program its food so here’s SpongeBob SquarePants as food candy bars cheese nips ice cream you know oh yeah lollipops okay and here’s SpongeBob SquarePants as more food pop-tarts and here is SpongeBob SquarePants as fish

food I got a little carrier why I couldn’t resist that and here is food as television station and SpongeBob SquarePants Nickelodeon has its own brand of food now and actually so does the Cartoon Network so here are Nickelodeon fun fruits of course you know brand licensing is just you know a piece of it and television is just a piece of it now kids see 40,000 commercials a year on television alone but that as I said that doesn’t include the programs and it doesn’t include the marketing on the radio and in videos and computer games and and on the internet and this one really makes me sad this is from neopets do any of you know about neopets any of you have a kid your kid so you just know about it you can work with kids neopets used to be this wonderful website for children it was created by these two college kids and essentially you could get on this website and you could create this fantasy pet and you would take care of it and there were ways that you could earn points in order to get food for your pet and to nurture your pet and you would check in and your pet would be thirsty or your pet would be just about dying or you know that kind of thing and you could feed them I kind of liked it I mean my daughter used to do neopets I thought it was really neat well then they sold it they sold it to a company and now the way that you can take care of your pet is to take your pet to mcdonalds see McDonald’s up there where the golden arches yeah their mcdonalds shop or you can take your pet to see a trailer for a disney movie or you can go to cereal adventure which it turns out is a general mills website where you can earn points to take care of your pet by watching commercials for sugar cereal neopets was so enamored of this idea and that they decided to call it immersive marketing and they’ve trademarked it so immersive marketing is a neopets trademark interestingly enough the I just found out that the president of neopets is on the board of kaeru which is a children’s advertising review unit which is the self-regulatory arm of the advertising industry I’m sure he’s really looking out for kids there so anyway that’s neopets the advertising industry you know they’re all really worried about Tebow I mean and I read a lot i read a lot of advertising literature I don’t know what to call it but anyway I read a lot of it and and there there’s this kind of frantic frenetic quality to it and they’re all really worried I mean they’re worried about commercials kids aren’t watching commercials anymore that oh my gosh kids aren’t watching commercials what are we going to do well so what they’re doing is immersive advertising on the internet which they light advertise they call it sticky advertising because the kids can engage for a long time with it so every food company and every food product has games that the kids can play with so you can go go to the Internet and play games with Oreos you know and and so it’s not just 15 seconds it’s longer than that and I believe me after you’ve engaged with oreos for a long time you want one I mean you do now i work at this daycare center and it’s a daycare center for kids with HIV and you know they have no money and so we get a lot of donated toys and a lot of the toys that people donate tend to be the cheaper toys and a cheaper toys tend to be the brand of choice so I for instance have spent 45 minutes extruding hamburgers with the mcdonalds play-doh set and believe me by the end of that 45 minutes I would you don’t extrude hamburgers I’m sorry extrude french fries I was extruding french fries and I was doing molds of hamburgers and I just want to be accurate but truth in advertising is extruding the french fries making bold hamburger moles so um um anyway by the end of it I was dying for hamburger and you know I never go to McDonald’s I could taste it I could just taste that sort of greasy salty you know I want and I also have the same experience and

maybe I’m just highly suggestible I don’t know but I was playing a CD from her she’s that also got donated to us and chocolate you know just all endless games of Hershey’s kisses and looking at the Tuck you want one and the parents report that their kids you know after they play the games that the kids go back and they want these products so that’s one of the ways that that the advertising industry is getting around tivo the other way that they’re doing it is through product placement and they are inserting brands into the television programs the kids watch it now it’s illegal to have product placement on programs that are specifically aimed at children but it’s not illegal to product placement on programs at Children’s watch children watch so on American Dreams for instance which is on eight o’clock at night on sunday they’re having this whole plot about Campbell Soup you know and so you can watch american dreams and watch these characters watching Campbell Soup commercials on television and entering a Campbell Soup contest and they even had this thing where somebody one of the kids baked a care package and it was all Campbell Soup products and she talked about on the air and then in this television program about how many products you could make with Campbell’s Soup the gilmore girls ate pop-tarts for breakfast you know Kellogg’s is a sponsor the gilmore girls came about because there’s something called the family-friendly programming forum which is this group of companies that got together and decided that there should be Lex less sex and violence on television and they were going to create family friendly programs well interesting I mean this but the these companies it’s Kellogg’s and general mills you know and all these food companies so you know it’s okay I mean so they have programs like the gilmore girls which don’t you know sex violence but they’re filled with food advertising you know childhood obesity is a major public health problem there’s mounting evidence and and you know we all know that it’s true that you know marketing does have an impact on children’s food choices so the gilmore girls eat poptarts for breakfast Kellogg’s is one of their sponsors ok let’s go on from neopets another thing that that I find really annoying about the advertising industry is that they really they they undermine children and they they undermine them by exploiting their vulnerabilities so contests contests are really big especially when you’re marketing eight nine ten year olds seven eight nine ten days you know they don’t understand odds real well so all of these contests you can win you know and this is lunchables now I read on the other thing that I find annoying about this is that it’s not just the contest is that they take the things that kids create and they and they brand them so extreme sports for instance I mean I think extreme sports is I mean I think it’s really neat I do I mean I thought it was a really neat kind of thing and it’s sort of like you know skateboarding was in that kind of thing but extreme sports I mean it’s been completely bought out by industry so I just read a whole article on tylenol Tylenol is really into extreme sports and they sponsor extreme sports contests and they do it in a way so they don’t even have um their logo on anything but everybody knows that it’s tylenol and then what happens that somebody writes a song about them you know or they get mentioned in magazines the tylenol extreme sports bowl you know or whatever it is so that’s lunchables now when i read i read a marketing plan for lunchables and one of the things that it said was parents don’t like lunchables it said they think it’s too expensive and they don’t like the packaging and by the way lunchables won a lifetime waste maker award from an environmental group from Asperger’s but you should no that but that’s what they say parents don’t like it they don’t like the expense they don’t like the packaging but that only adds to the appeal and what the marketing industry does is use parental disapproval as a selling point you know that’s a good thing if parents do a while parents don’t like it isn’t that great you know to what they’re doing are exploiting especially you know like with preteens and teens with their natural tendency to want to separate to individuate you know to rebell and so

they co-op or billion and they play on it so who really wins in these contents and then there’s soda marketing um you know soda is implicated more and more and more in childhood obesity I mean that there’s mounting evidence about that as well and um soda companies you know particularly market in schools I mean it and as you may know they’ve been a lot of fights and successful flights around the country to get coke and pepsi out of the school’s I mean that’s I think a really good thing now Koch says that they don’t market to children and they cut they came out and said that about a year ago we do not mark it to children we mark it to kids 14 and older we don’t mark it to children so there’s a Barbie and you could say you know and what people say about these Barbies I mean last year there was lingerie Barbie or as my feminist friends called a pornographic Barbie which was Barbie and a little in a black busty a and you know that kind of thing but she was for girls 14 and older at FAO Schwarz so what they say this is a collector Barbie you know it’s not really for girls it’s not really for kids it’s a collector Barbie ok all right so it’s a collector Barbie what can I say no but what about this this is um a chess set a coca-cola chess set that i found an Toys R Us website the toys-r-us website and it’s for children as young as eight which last I look was younger than 14 well and what about this a checker set Wow for children as young as six and a toy car plastered with you know coca-cola for children as young as four so coca-cola does not I repeat does not mark it to children under 14 and by the way coca-cola gave a million dollar grant last year and to the American Academy of pediatric dentistry you’re not interesting to do research and after that the American Academy of pediatric dentistry kind of modified their stance on soda and schools and you know that kind of thing they have a billion dollar grant to the American Academy of pediatric dentistry and one of the CEOs of coca-cola wait can you have more than one CEO one of the executives on mark one of the executives of coca-cola is on the board of the National PTA and a sponsor of the boys & girls clubs as well coke is the big sponsor the Boys and Girls Clubs and I saw a video which I wish I had I saw a video that Coke produced for the Boys and Girls Club where it was really hard to tell which was which by the end you know the coke slogan and the boys and girls club slugging they were all kind of merging I mean it was really brilliant and diabolical but coke doesn’t mark it to children and then their sprite sprite you know sprite have has decided to stake out hip hop they sponsor a lot of hip hop conferences and sprite is coke anyway but they sponsor a lot of hip hop conferences and things like that and they decided to create this hip hop character named Miles thirst you know there he is and also all these sports figures you know they get in and get you know zillion dollar contracts for soda and you know that kind of things so anyway and the the slogan that they’re using is obey your thirst I mean that is really interesting implications that one of the things you really have to think about it’s not just products that are being marketed to children it’s really values values and behaviors and their values and behaviors that aren’t good for kids obey your thirst we don’t want kids to obey your third their thirst you know I mean we really don’t want them to obey their thirst when they get to be teenagers well I’ll talk about values a little more later oh you can’t see that very well just say no that’s what the marketing industry says the marketing industry says parents should just say no that works so well for drug abuse just say no I’m going to talk a little bit

more about marketing sex and violence later but you know people like me who work with parents when we give parents advice about dealing with their kids and especially when the kids get me get to be teens or preteens what do we say to them we say pick your battles right pick your battles well which battle are parents supposed to pick today are they supposed to pick the food battle the precocious the precocious irresponsible sexuality battle the violence battle the video game battle the computer game battle the the r-rated movie vout battle the materialism battle which battle or parents suppose to pick today in order to be a good parent to your child really you would be have to be arguing with your son or daughter from the moment they get up in the morning to the moment they go to bed at night so so the the industry is saying it’s up to parents parents should be the gatekeepers and you know parents do have a responsibility I mean they do I I’m not saying that that parents don’t have a responsibility but what I am saying is that the marketing industry is doing everything it can to undermine parental authority and they do that in a variety of ways for instance if you look at children’s programming or you look at commercials on children’s programming adults are largely either absent mean stupid or ineffectual you know watch them I mean just sit down and watch and just look at that just look at the adults that’s the message that kids are getting about adults in programs in the not just in the programs but in the commercials themselves I mean that’s the message but it’s even worse than that in 1998 there was a company called Western media international that did a study on nagging this was not a study to help parents cope with nagging it was a study to help corporations help children nag more effectively they call it the nag factor and so you know what they found what they did is identify different kinds of nagging they discovered that there was persistence nagging which is gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme and the Center for new American Dream did a study and found that preteens were apt to ask up to 50 times for something that they want so that’s gimme gimme gimme that’s not actually as effective they discovered as important naggy important snagging is when the child gives a reason now the example that they give and this is just about a direct quote is mom I really need Barbie’s dream house because Barbie and Ken want to get married and have a family now I don’t know if you know this but Barbie and Ken split up recently Barbie has taken up with an Australian snowboarder and I assume that they’re going to be selling the condo soon so anyway that’s important snaggy and they discovered that one out of three trips I think it’s one out of three yeah one out of three trips to a fast food restaurant comes about because of nagging and you know and four out of ten something like a four out of ten trips to a chuck e cheese comes about because of nagging and so they know what kinds of products are susceptible to nagging and also what kinds of parents are susceptible to nagging and lo and behold the parents who are most susceptible to parent to naggy are the ones who are the most stressed and the most vulnerable parents of young children and single parents that’s what they found so so the nag factor um and I don’t know if any of you have seen the movie the corporation have you seen it well so then you saw lucy stone in it lucy stone is the person who thought of the nag factor study and she was interviewed in the movie the corporation and this is what she had to say about it if we understand what motivates a parent to buy a product if we could oh that if we could develop a creative commercial you know a 30-second commercial that encourages a child to whine or show some sort of importance in it that the child understands and is able to reiterate to the parents then we were successful is it ethical she says I don’t know I was good speechless right there is it ethical I don’t know but our role at

initiative is to move products and if we know you move products with a certain creative execution placed in a certain type of media vehicle then we’ve done our job so that’s Lucy Hewes the bag factor turns up a lot in the marketing literature it’s been turning up less I mean I I and my colleagues have really been you know taking on the next actor we write about it a lot we talk about it a lot I mean you know it’s really disgusting so but this was in the Wall Street Journal all of our advertising is targeted to kids you want that nag factor so that seven year old Sarah is nagging mom in the grocery store to buy funky purple this is funky purple ketchup which they marketed by the way by saying well you know if kids have trouble eating kids don’t like to eat I I don’t know about that I mean that kids don’t like to eat we need to make eating more fun I never it’s something that said we have to make eating more interactive me is I you know it’s one of the more interactive things I do anyway um we’re not sure mom would reach for it on her own Kelly stood a brand manager at Heinz wall street journal in 2001 funky purple ketchup I I kind of watched the whole flunky purple thing develop because i was reading these articles and they were talking about the food needed to be fun the fun factor in food and and that’s what that’s what kids wanted and so then i said when i started watching commercials they weren’t talking about how food tasted they were talking about how fun it was and that’s when you got these you know cereal you know it turns the cereal blew it turns your lips blue it explodes in your mouth you know all that kind of thing it was amazing to watch that happen I mean the thing that you know that the thing is the people who know the most about the research that goes on in marketing to children are the corporation’s who do it and their research is proprietary we can get it it’s not like academic research you know which is open to the public the other thing is that academic research as you all know is federally mandated to have human subject reviews and it’s subject to some kind of regulation so you know you have to have informed consent consent you have to tell the people you’re working with what the risks are the risks and the benefits of the research well you know don’t you wonder what those people doing the nag factor studies said to those mothers who are keeping tracks in the nags I mean do you think they said to them we are going to do research that is going to make your life miserable you know I don’t think so but i don’t think i could get that research by any you know any human subjects review in the institution i work for an isn’t it ironic that academic research is subject to regulation but market research is not you know it’s not that academic research should be subject to less regulation I don’t think so there it is the nag factor study okay this is an Arnold Schwarzenegger I mean the Governor of California toy it’s a terminator toy I can see that you can’t see it very well it’s an r-rated toy for seven-year-olds that’s another thing that’s really interesting you know they say you know there are rated movies I mean when the FTC oh thanks that’s better I thought there was gonna be a blackout or something when the FTC did it study on marketing violence to kids I mean they did find that they were marketing r-rated movies to younger kids and supposedly they’re not doing that now but they’re still making toys you know so these toys are rated Toys R rated movies have toys that are marketed to seven year olds and of course the kids want to see them and you I mean most of the kids that I work with have seen is terrible you know horror films the chuck e series for instance you know a lot of them have seen that they’ve seen all of these movies and you they have the toys to go along with them so there’s that and then there’s the incredible hulk pg-13 you know of all these violent toys marketed to kids and no thing excuse me those hands are really just amazing you know they talk and they say POW and Wham and you know all these things and you get to you know hit with them and everything that’s incredible hug and this was marketed two years ago right before the war in Iraq

it’s a was for three-year-olds and it’s a world peacekeepers battle station is that or well in or what a world peacekeepers battle station there was so much protest about this that actually the UM the again like Holly’s around the country you know there were demonstrations and letters and people calling and stuff and they took them off the shelves finally the other one that went along with this was a forward command post which I had in my office for a while that is a bombed-out house this was right before the Iraq war and during the Iraq war by the way they were marketing Easter baskets with um with soldiers touting machine guns in them so you could go to walgreens and buy one of those for your kids during Easter I there was a lot of protest about that and some stores did take them out oh yeah and then they’re shocked vertising again they’re so worried the advertising industry that their messages aren’t getting across that they keep trying to get kids anyway the cans and one of the ways that they do it is to shock them and they call jolts per minute you know how many joules per minute and so so they’re getting more and more and more and more extremes so we have what’s-her-name jenna jameson do you know who she is John Jameson she’s a porn star but she is also advertising pony which is you know clothing and stuff for skateboard skateboarders for tweens that’s kind of interesting there’s you know the Calvin Klein ads abercrombie and fitch and guess what magazine that was in the one on the left any ideas just take a guess 17 and that of course raises you know just tons of issues I mean I’m not even enough time to really go into the whole issue of marketing two girls and marketing and possibly thin body types two girls I mean you know girls as as sex objects and it’s important you know when you think about marketing sex two kids it’s not real sex you know I mean the people on the Left don’t like to talk about marketing sex it’s a right-wing issue you know that that’s you know it’s a right-wing issue it’s the Christian Right people on the Left don’t like to talk about marking sex they get worried oh my god the First Amendment blah blah blah blah but one thing that’s end the First Amendment is important and I care about the First Amendment but one thing that it’s important to remember it’s not real sex that’s being marketed to kids it’s sex as power sex as commodity sex and violence I mean I get calls from people you know saying well I’m really embarrassed that I’m concerned about marketing sex on television but you know and I’m really hip and I was grew up in the 60s and you know all that kind of stuff but you know it’s not real sex and and you know what you know if you look at studies kids tend to turn to the media for sex information about sex the information they’re getting isn’t real information it’s a problem so there’s chakra tising and that’s Britney Spears I first learned about Britney Spears from a four year old who kept bringing britney spears into her play and britney spears saved her life and britney spears did this and what about that time i got a call from a mother in superior Wisconsin who was outraged because she walked into her daughter’s school and there was that Britney Spears poster selling milk in her daughter’s school what was Britney Spears doing and advertising Britney Spears um you know CDs and use stuff like that in in her daughter school and and she you know she was in superior Wisconsin I mean shear attended up homeschooling her daughter actually and she didn’t know what else to do the school wouldn’t listen to her she couldn’t get a group of parents parents fed most success appearance have gotten other parents to work with them you know to go to the school board and do it together and she was really all alone but she was just outraged about that and you can see how young it starts you know it’s really marketing irresponsible and commodified sex to really really really young children oh and then there’s food a sexual predator Pimp Juice the the rap singer Nelly has a product an energy drink called pimp juice and any brought a song about it pimp juice is anything attract the opposite sex it could be money famous straight into like it don’t

matter pimp juice is colorblind you find it work on all colors Creed’s and kinds from ages 50 right down to nine so there’s product placement you know even in rap songs and when I forget who it was well rap singer did pass the Courvoisier sales of kuvasz eway Gavazzi a went just through the roof and the owner of Def Jam Records went out and bought a a brandy company no vodka company I can’t remember what it was anyway he bought a liquor company because a was doing so well you know so and you know see you think okay well the rap is for older kids although we all know that rap is really marketed to you know nine ten eleven year olds and um so that the pimp she is kind of leads to this this is in the Washington Post weeks ago to this is Halloween you can get a pimp suit and a whole costume for your child from brands on sale brands on sale calm for as little as forty dollars comes in a size four according to the article they said next year they were going to have them for babies I mean I don’t know you know and what does that say to kids about sex and sexuality about men about women I mean these are the values that are kind of being you know sort of put forth and then there’s baby branding and that’s really the worst of it I think I mean what the advertising industry is doing is targeting babies and they do this in a whole range of ways you know I’m going to stop I think actually and see if we can take some excuse me some questions because I’m sort of going on longer than I expected I know it kind of inundated you with a lot but yeah but this is what’s happening to kids every day and however much i’m talking about it now I I mean I’m just talking about really the tip of the iceberg there’s so much more and I think it’s mean that’s really why I wrote the book I think it’s really important for people to know what the advertising industry is doing and how they’re characterizing children how they think about children if you have any questions I’m i was told you supposed to go up to the microphone are there any I think I think they really want you to go for microphone sorry but they do when you were showing the pimp costume and you said what does this say to a child in my head I’m thinking says my parents are morons I mean I mean do we have no power as parents to get in the way of this stuff because I mean a child can’t read that ad and the child can’t come up with the forty dollars and I guess a child can beg but uh my god i have a very young daughter she’s just 20 months and she doesn’t watch TV and she won’t as long as I can keep her from it but and I hope that my husband and I are instilling in her sort certain value so that when she is exposed to all of this stuff she’ll have a bit of resistance but it just might be insane curiosity and she might suck it up so it’s not really a question but yeah I mean it well what about parents I mean you know what I think your daughter is very lucky to have you and your husband and to have to thinking parents who are sophisticated enough to think about this stuff to know about it you know what about the kids whose parents don’t what about the kids whose parents you know have sort of bought into this what about the kids you know what about the kids who are having kids you know what about other people’s children I mean that’s my concern it’s not yes there are things that parents can do and one of the things we can do is we can look at our own relationship to consumption and our own susceptibilities to marketing and we can you know limp we can try to limit that when our kids are little and we can start out and the kids do learn by example and that is something that we can do but I think one family in isolation can’t combat a 15 billion dollar industry you just can’t do it and somebody asked me what’s the worst of it what’s the worst of it well the worst of it depends on how your child is vulnerable if you have a child is vulnerable to obesity then the worst of it is food marketing if you have a preteen girl than the worst of it as the sexuality you feel the boy who’s a little ramp on just then it’s the violence you know if you have somebody who’s you know a little insecure about you know peer pressure and things and it could be them it’s just the whole materialism thing

and feeling inadequate if the notion that things will make me happy I mean that’s what the marketing industry sells tickets that that’s the value things will make me happy I mean I really see this as a societal issue I see it as a societal issue and it’s an issue it’s it’s about the rights of parents to raise healthy children without being undermined by corporate greed and that’s a right parents should have that right it’s hard enough to be a parent and so if I think of it that way I mean I think of it as a societal issue like civil rights like the women’s rights like gay right it’s a societal issue and it needs to be addressed that way and you know really what we need and in fact what we’re seeing around the country is the beginnings of a movement it’s sort of like where we are we’re like the civil rights movement in the 1940s oh we’re laying the groundwork out right now but that’s what it’s going to take I mean it’s really going to take a movement and and it and I think that what we need is a cacophony of protest about this and that’s kind of starting I was at a conference a couple of weeks ago in northeastern the public health advocacy Institute that’s the tobacco lawyers who took on fast food I would took on the tobacco lawyers you know the public health lawyers took on tobacco are now taking on fast best food so and they really see law as advocacy what they want to do is get a case to the discovery stage if they get it to the discovery stage they can subpoena documents you know so that’s you know that’s going on I work with the coalition called stop commercial exploitation of children and our website is www commercial exploitation com and we’re you know small organizations all over the country also individuals concerned about this and you know we do actions periodically for instance right we’ve taken on the United States Youth Soccer Association which partners with the chemical company with a pesticide company Chemlawn and chem one used the u.s. Wayas mailing list to direct mail to children you know goes to the family of Sammy whatever ads about their pesticides and information that if you buy the pesticide five percent goes back to the US is a so we’ve out you so SCE see the coalition or work with is partnered with these environmental groups around the country and we sent in a public letter to the president of United States you Soccer Association I mean we think we have a shot actually this is one we think we have a shot at winning and if you want to help go to the website WWL exploit a.m. and get the phone number or send an email to UM into the president of us why say it’s really easy to do it but i think you know if he gets enough emails they might stop that I mean I mean and people are outraged by that i mean there’s you know these links between pesticide and people are concerned about cancer and the kids are rolling around and it’s a problem so you know I think we have to see this it’s it’s not just a familial issue and in my book I do talk about things that parents can do in the home um but you can’t do it alone I don’t think you need to reach out to the community yep in that vein and I’m oh the mother and a teacher and so I think that my son’s fortunate like her daughter that you know I’m educated in this because I’m an educator I know a lot of this stuff but a lot of my students parents are single parents live in poverty you know are those parents that are really the victim here that they’re so stressed but they don’t have the time for that and so I want to educate them my kids are very young I teach kindergarten so I really have to go through the parents do you know of anything because I don’t they don’t have the time to do you know this big research and you also don’t want them to feel like I’m saying you’re a bad parent do you know I just found some on pbs.org this weekend that seems to be about media education but it scared older kids but do you know of any organizations or anything for parents that has more of a nice attitude not like you’re bad and so you need to do something but anything that could help those parents I you know we’re the SEC has a our first state chapter in Iowa and they’re working with us to put together a whole set of one pagers of information about marketing it’s just you know sort of distill to one page for parents and for people who talk to parents you know what their goal is to educate people in their community to be able to go around to schools to talk about marketing to kids and they have the same thing they don’t want to you know they don’t have time to read huge numbers of things and and stuff like

that but I wanted to none of us we’re not saying that parents are bad it’s not the parents are bad it’s that they’re just so overwhelmed and also that this has been happening you know with people not even knowing it I mean did you know everything that I told you tonight I mean I I mean I get shocked I still get shocked every day about what’s going on the marketing mystery doesn’t want people to know so you know the best thing we can do is to you know talk about it and tell people about it um it’s it’s hard when you know it’s hard when parents are overwhelmed especially because it’s the kids in poverty who are more exposed to marketing than anybody else they go to the poorest schools their schools are you know inundated with marketing they watch more television you know it’s a real problem it’s a real problem and it’s hard to get this as a real priority I mean if you’re worried about where your next paycheck is coming from it’s hard to make marketing a priority you know but but really it underlined so much about you know child rearing and about you know being a parent so they do have a question too I think there’s another side of the equation of the name factor I mean my 33rd year of teaching in public schools this year and from a fairly affluent community and just a footnote on the other side of the nagging aspect of raising children my first year of teaching I had a fifth grade classroom of 30 to kids and I knew at the end of the day that out of those 32 kids 29 of them were going home to to a home where there was a parent at home this year I have 20 kids in my room and I know of only two of them that go home to a home with a parent in there so i think the other side of the coin on top of the nag factor is the guilt factor which is so overwhelming to parents I’m guilty I have to work all the time so if my child wants anything I’m going to cave I’m going to give them whatever they want and that’s happened over 33 years of being in the industry yep um you know I when I was when I was heard in my book I was reading about tweens you know that’s the marketing history calls preteens I want to know where the word tween came from so i did this database search and let your wood to LexisNexis and i went back as far as i could go and when I came to latchkey children I came to a headline that said latch in the 1980s latchkey children are a gold line for marketers that’s where it began and yes it’s a problem yes parents Philip feel guilty but why is there this industry that is exploiting that guilt why is that okay why are we letting that happen I don’t get it it’s exactly where yeah their job is to make money and that means that the you know it’s our job to build the public will to do something about it mean it and people say it’s hopeless I mean I get that out you know it’s hopeless but you know people said that about civil rights do people said that about the women’s movement it’s hopeless women will never get the right to vote I mean it’s I mean we really have to look at this as a social political issue you know and take it on that way and I think that there that there is the sort of growing movement and growing concern especially about you with young people about corporations and corporate power I think it’s the same struggle yep thank you this has been wonderful I started teaching in 1966 my son is 34 years old and when he got to be the age of watching saturday cartoons that biggie Sharon from Newton was without the ethical off of it yes and who just heard how loud the commercials what were and gathered some women in her Newton home to discuss this and embarked on a whole career where she got the FCC to change the regulations and the regulations were changed I think she worked on it for about 20 years and got everything she wanted and work nationally and said well we won packed everything up gave all her archives to the Harvard School of Education and then ronald reagan became president and one of the first things

that came down was no penalties do not enforce these regulations yeah and so I I mean it is a societal yeah they end and I think you know I heard her tell that story in the 80 so I’m really glad you’re you’re here thank you yeah yes she’s been very supportive every so often she calls us up and say good job good job or you should have done this but yeah in on in 1984 the FCC deregulated children’s television and it became okay to make programs in order to sell products and a year later all of the 10 best selling toys were linked to media you know so that’s interesting the other thing that happened is that act action for children’s television was pushing for it got the FTC under mike perchick to say that there should be a ban on marketing to children under 8 because they don’t understand persuasive intent and that’s really good research it’s academic research it’s a market research everybody agrees they don’t understand persuasive intent you know and then the thought is what that means they can’t defend against it so the FTC said there should be no marketing we’re going to pass a law saying there’s no marketing children under 8 there was so much pressure on Congress that two years later in nineteen eighty Congress defunded the FTC and took away their power to regulate marketing to kids and at this point in the United States it is easier to regulate marketing to adults than it is to marketing regulate marketing to kids but one of the things that’s hopeful even in with this D regulatory climate you know we have an administration that loves deregulation there are for the first time in years five or six bills in the Senate and in the house that address marketing to kids and one of them is tom harkin’s help America Act Tom Harkin last June got up on the floor of the Senate and was morally outraged about marketing to kids that gives me hope no I don’t know whether this bill is going to pass or not but when I started this you know writing and talking about this four or five years ago I mean my best friends were laughing at me this is so crazy why are you doing this you’re tilting windmills is ridiculous well here it is you know four or five years later and there’s tom harkin on the floor of the Senate being outraged about the same things that i’m outraged about and putting forth a bill that includes a provision to give the FTC back the power to regulate marketing to kids that’s encouraging a few days ago Ted Kennedy introduced a bill that would give the FTC rule making authority over food marketing to kids to enforce the recommendations that institute of medicine are coming up up with around food marketing and that’s pretty encouraging to me I don’t know whether those bills are passed you know as far as I’m concerned they’re not enough but I think it’s a start and I think it’s really encouraging yeah um and you talked about marketing in schools and there is a lot of marketing in schools when I was doing my student teaching my cooperating teacher got 20 copies of a book done by the lumber industry that was upset about the Lorax and it ended the same way it was or acts at something all right do you know the lorex was a dr. Seuss book that was pro the environment yeah and it was written from the perspective of the lumber industry it was a children’s book writer that way and my cooperating teacher hadn’t been aware of that I ended up turning it into last time I brought in the Lorax I could at least see what that was and then when I became a teacher you routinely get curriculum materials in the mail from different you know especially as you were saying like food companies around like issues especially around like Kwazii science education type thing sponsored by different organs it different companies yep and I’m seeing that I’ve seen that a lot yep every industry has a curriculum epic to support or has imputation materials to support their point of view like Exxon you know of the Valdez has you know an ecology curriculum and you know the oil industry has something on fossil fuels and things like that I mean it’s just amazing and you know of course all of these all of these teaching materials bypass community control and so does channel one you know about channel one in the school’s what you know the 10 minutes of sort of news and two minutes of commercials that that one corporation is deciding what kids are going to know about current events and it completely bypasses community control okay go ahead hi I’m actually from the divinity school night emailed you earlier oh why hi how are you what I find fascinating is what you just said sort of implies that

there’s less freedom and we’ll less freedom for sort of development as we know it children similarly parents have less freedom to impart the values that they’d like to yet Bush talks about the fact that we are a how do they put it a ownership culture and of course when they talk about the private sort of freedom it’s it’s it’s interesting to me that this is going on at the same time that we’re talking about increasing freedoms we’re going to war to you know to defend freedom my question is to you religious communities what role do they have to play and that divide that you mentioned earlier about the left my intuition is that the progressive elements of religious communities are going to not know quite what to do because they’re going to assume that this is a conservative issue right how do we get past that impasse that oh that’s a great question I think religious communities mainstream religious communities have a really important role to play marketing to children undermine spiritual values it’s the antithesis of what most mainstream religions want I mean what and its antithesis of democracy by the way me first lifetime brand loyalty unthinking brand loyalty impulse when you know things will make us happy isn’t that the antithesis of religion I mean really I think that we you know we need to go to you know ministers and rabbis in and to musk and and and talk to mainstream religious people about these issues and get them to start taking stands on them in church and again just like in other movements the religious community has a really important role to play and we should not feed these kinds of values to the religious right I mean you know this is really an issue that cuts in it cuts across in a culturally I think we need to to stop on one more question okay sir that’d be very brief I wanted to just take it what I think were your first two sentences one just to briefly comment and then second was your question your first sentence I think was that we don’t know what the commercials we were brought on upon are not the same as the children today and that makes me think that of a person in France was them who was a deputy who in the nineteen eighteen cigarette Hawaiian addressed the French parliament and got no echo neither on the right now the left though after she got a lot of local echo and the red other deputies were greeted by angry and creepy for who who who thought that they they had not listened which was saying and she was simply to you exactly what you are speaking of now and so this phenomenon of not being the people were the academics all the people who make policy are not aware of what children are actually receiving that’s one big issue so your second a quote was a quote from a poet that is you can reply through creation so I’m wondering that if apart from these move all what you have told us about this group these activities to help you know counter all this and what can we create I mean with your puppets are what can we on television in particular which would inform inform through creation oh yeah um given that in the United States the purpose of television is to sell things it’s going to be really hard to get anything on television about this I think but I think that there are our independent films in Emma pit you know supersize me for instance that was a creative act wasn’t it and that’s doing really well and that’s made McDonald’s a little nervous although I do understand that McDonald’s income is actually rising but but still i mean the the the I think the independent I think there’s hope and independent film you know but that’s the way that we can go and I think we can make teaching materials I mean one of the things that I’m really interested in in doing is making media literacy materials for new parents but that’s where it has to start I don’t think if parents have to understand twenty to twenty six percent of American children under the age of two have a television in their bedroom you know there was no reason for that well and that’s and that you know and I address that in my book and and you know when I wrote my book for parents I mean I but I think I think that we need media literacy metoo like a video and pamphlets for parents it the hospitals can hand out when babies are born you know along with all the commercial stuff they get we need something that can help parents understand that you know the 15 minutes a piece that they’re buying when

they put their baby in front of the television is going to cost them at the grocery store later on well you know thank you so much for coming and um it this is I mean I hope what you come away with is that this is a this is a real problem and it’s a serious problem and it’s a huge problem but it isn’t hopeless and I really think you know we really need to look to ourselves than our strengths and do what we can and really create a cacophony of outrage about this we should all be outraged about it thank you