I share this opinion; children are being lead to develop unhealthy eating habits by the cynical marketing schemes of fast food companies such as McDonald’s. Marketing towards children is ubiquitous in today’s society, almost anywhere you turn your head you are likely to come across some style of advertisement that Is directed toward children. These are the sort of facts that draw my attention to this wide spread Issue. I believe that certain Items, specifically fast-food, should absolutely not be directed towards children. This Is a tough subject to overlook and I m curious to see how these companies justify their actions.
Almost every fast food corporation advertises to young children. This raises several questions. What age defines a child? At what age are children capable of making their own decisions? Why are these children so vulnerable that the simple act of watching a commercial, playing a video game, or even seeing a picture of their favorite cartoon character can lead them into a downward spiral of poor decisions? These are all questions that should be analyzed when looking into this social problem. Additional discussion may arise when considering which type of products are actually thought to be damaging to market directly to children.
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Since I have developed a tendency of playing the devils advocate over the years this question almost Immediately yields another: which products ARE considered to be socially acceptable when marketed directly to children? The mind of a young child is very often referred to as a “sponge”, or even a “ball of clay waiting to be molded”. We have all heard these expressions and let’s face it, the concept that children are extremely susceptible to persuasion is known to the masses. In fact it has been proven that children under the age of eight years old are unable to make any sort of logical decisions and believe almost anything they are told. Murphy 1) The major functions of a young child’s brain are acquiring, exchanging, and collecting information, not decision making. (Scorch) These are the type of things that make children so vulnerable. Fast food companies are not Ignorant to this Information; in actuality they are well aware of how easily children may be manipulated and they use this to their lull advantage. They know that children are unable to make decisions on their own and therefore attempt to make decisions for them through clever advertising and advantage of these young minds by leading them to develop unhealthy eating habits in the overcompensation of their products.
Fast food is a perfect example off product that should never be directly marketed toward children. This is for many reasons; the most predominant of them however is the fact that the eating habits a child develops at a young age are usually the eating habits they will follow for the majority of their ivies. Eric Closers states in his book, “Eight-year-olds are considered ideal customers; they have about sixty-five years of purchasing in front of them. ” No products that develop negative habits should be allowed to be marketed toward children.
The exact opposite of the products previously noted are the only ones that should be marketed toward children, products that promote a healthy lifestyle. Many fast food companies simply avoid any response to this subject when it approaches them. McDonald’s is one of the only companies that even attempts to justify their actions. It is very obvious that McDonald’s advertises to children, from their fun-loving Ronald McDonald, to the little toys that come with their food, to any other one of the countless marketing tactics they use to lure children into their restaurants.
In the defense of McDonald’s they do not deny that they market to children they simply make attempts to Justify their actions. They claim that one hundred percent of their advertising directed toward children encourages them to make healthy choices. (Knick 1) Danny Proud, a spokesperson for McDonald’s claims, “We pride ourselves on being responsible marketers. She also insists that McDonald’s encourages parents to make the right decisions for their children when it comes to their eating habits.. Knick 1) These efforts by the McDonald’s Corporation are a step in the right direction but may not be entirely effective. It is fantastic that McDonald’s is attempting to help encourage children to develop healthy eating habits but at some point you have to ask the question, how hard are they actually trying? Yes they now advertise their apple slices, milks, and Juices, but they are still pushing the burgers, chicken nuggets, and other unhealthy options that cake up the majority of their menu toward children as well.
This comes back to the fact that children simply can not make the right decisions for themselves, they are naturally drawn to the unhealthy foods and poor eating habits because they are strategically marketed to appeal to them. Due to this I believe that McDonald’s claims of being “responsible marketers” are a bit tainted to say the least. My response to their “attempt” of encouraging parents to make the right choices for their children is that there is only so much a parent can handle when a crying child is begging for a pappy meal so they can get the new toy that comes with it.
There is no denying that marketing directed toward children has grown out of hand. Marketers now spend approximately $600 billion dollars per year marketing to children alone. I believe that the majority of the products that are being advertised to children are not leading them to make healthy choices and therefore should be strictly regulated. I believe that no type of fast food should be marketed to children at this point in time because the fast food restaurants simply do not provide the products needed in order to develop healthy eating habits.
More and more people are coming to acknowledge “Marketing towards children,” into a Google images search I was blown away. The first image on the list of millions of results was cartoon drawing of Ronald McDonald, followed by the unsettling image of 2 morbidly obese children lightheartedly helping themselves to some takeout. This shows how wide-spread this issue has become in today’s society. This is a problem that effects our youth, the future of our nation. The future of our children should not be decided by large corporations, but by their parents and peers. Fast food should NOT be marketed toward children.