Don’t Steal My Cereal.
September 21, 2011 Leave a comment
I was recently talking with a co-worker about advertising to kids and after the requisite discussion about the original Ronald McDonald commercial we started talking about kids cereal commercials. And there was one common thread that kept coming up. Stealing. Someone was trying to steal the cereal from the kids, or the kids were trying to steal the cereal from the character, or one character was stealing from another.
Here’s some proof:
Kids know it’s wrong to steal (or at least most of them are told this). so why have advertisers spent so much time trying to associate the food with this behavior? Was it to make kids think that someone (or something) was going to steal their cereal at any moment so they would eat it fast, or crave it more? Were they trying to make them protective of it?
Or was it merely a way to make the kids the hero? Even little kids can spot the Trix Rabbit in a disguise, or figure out that Barney is trying to trick Fred out of his fruity pebbles. Does giving them these easy to “solve” situations make them feel smart? Successful? Heroic? And do those feelings transfer to the cereals?
Or is it something much simpler than either of these explanations. Maybe the advertising agencies were just trying to tell a short cartoon story that would fit seamlessly into the cartoons the kids were watching. It’s hard to tell a narrative in :30 seconds (less than that when you have to work in the message about the bowl of milk and sugar being “part of a complete breakfast.”) and these “stories” are easy to get across.
Are you more likely to pay attention to a commercial that mirrors the show you are watching? I don’t have scientific proof to back up my theory, but the fact that I remembered there was a car commercial during Chuck that starred the cast almost 2 years after it aired is pretty good directional evidence (although I don’t recall which brand/model it was for).