Advertising and manipulation

Still on the subject of obesity and advertising here’s a thought provoking section of a report in yesterday’s Evening Standard (London evening paper).

The ultimatum came as extraordinary new evidence emerged of how food companies and advertisers seek to “infiltrate” children’s culture to by-pass the protective influence of parents.

A submission from advertising agency Leo Burnett to the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising for one of its “effectiveness” awards boasts how its campaign for Kellogg’s Real Fruit Winders “entered the world of kids in a way never done before” and “managed not to let Mum in on the act”.

Sugars make up a third of the product which won a Tooth Rot award in 2002.

The committee report quoted one industry publication saying that an eight-year-old boy was the perfect target for advertising as “he had 65 years of consumption ahead of him”.

Have you ever had the experience of being with a friend in a restaurant or shop and seen them be nasty or manipulative to the staff? Or tried to do business with someone who brags about how he squeezes suppliers or gets more money from customers? Doesn’t that make you a little more cautious about your relationship with them?

I think of this whenever ad agencies brag about how clever they are at manipulating people.

It strikes me that agencies who are proud of manipulating children will surely revel in doing it to their supposedly revered clients.

I don’t trust those advertising effectiveness awards as proof that agencies work. But as evidence of their values… they can be very revealing. Perhaps they also provide insights into the values of their clients?

3 thoughts on “Advertising and manipulation

  1. fouroboros

    Yeah, but if it’s a GOOD curry, brown sugar, sultanas and all, WTF?!

    Wait–Sugar. Friendly…

    Wait-staff paying “inordinate” attention to your needs, facilitating your enjoyment… “Your needs?”

    Fire ’em! Damnable inefficency experts!

  2. Johnnie Moore

    We shouldn’t be so surprised byhe Ads that agencies produce. We’ll always be played – their ads are so good that’s it’s a wonder we know ourselves anymore.

    A major task for us is to know what is right for us, our kids and our future. E.g. what values do we hold? Have we really taken the time to figure these out or are we gonna be fodder for the psycho experts that will always whisper/shout sweet messages.

    Values hold the key. Not corporate values but OUR values. Wherever people don’t think, someone else will do it for them.

    If we’re going to lament, don’t blame the agencies….look at ourselves.


    Hi Tim, good and thought-provoking comment, as usual.

    Actually this isn’t an Either/Or choice.

    Values are about how we interact with each other so I think we should look at our own and be willing to challenge other people’s as well.

    Indeed your comment is itself a lament about other people’s values, since your reference to “our values” presumably includes a lot of folks other than yourself. And rightly so.

    And I continue to lament the values of agencies that take pride in manipulating children. And I lament that clients seem to think of such skills as a reason to work with them.

  3. Daniel Spicer

    I have an assignment on Manipulative Marketing. Coul you please send me a report so I can copy from it. Thank you


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