This is the end of innocence


The school started for the kids today. The bags were light, it being the first day… no books but they were heavy too… heavy with expectations – of the parents… of the teachers and their own… Envy, disappointment or just a wee bit of “why cant you buy me this” in their eyes…. Hanna Montana school bags… Barbie school bags… Ben Ten school bags… and all the parapharnelia that goes with the bags…

Reminded me of my school days. The excitement of school opening back then used to be all new books and notebooks and the pride of being at the next level (self pride). We never had these fancy bags and the hope and despair in our eyes about what others have and I don’t. No TV so no characters from TV programs. No characters so obviously no merchandizing.

What are we turning our children into… and what future are we giving them? And this question is not as a parent but as a marketing and communication professional. We are creating future consumerist who would be driven completely by materialistic instincts…

Horlicks and Complan fight over which has more nutrients and there is research data thrown around to substantiate the claim! And the advertising that catches the fancy of the kids, is the brand that is bought. Kids have a say in that because parents give in… after all the notion that kids would be healthy is paramount and at least the kids would have the milk!

The other end of the spectrum of course is Happy Meal toys – complete junk but made exciting by the toys and here too parents give in to the demands as a treat.

And the freebies that come with so many products targeted at the kids, get my goat! All of that is advertised over the the kids channels – Pogo, CN, Disney… It’s tough to get around that. Most of the stuff is completely useless – the suppliers of this junk having a good time selling it to brands who are under pressure to increase sales.

My son tells me other day that I should not stop him from having chewing gum because it is good for teeth! Some brand of chewing gum advertising on TV that Indian Dental Association has certified it as being healthy for teeth!! I was left aghast because my son is only 5!

My daughter wanted Hanna Montana guitar which is not really a guitar. I told her I will buy her the real guitar and she can learn to strum… but nope didn’t work…

Where is our sense of social responsibility as a brand? We are using youth power for very narrow gains… not looking beyond our nose in terms of sales and revenues. Instead of harnessing this power…and the power of crowdsourcing for a better world… we want to sell, sell, sell…

I wonder if there is a research which says that constructive and useful freebies won’t help sell a brand? Maybe they won’t because we have conditioned the kids minds towards useless stuff…

Wonder if the brands realise that these children would grow up and expect freebies with every purchase they make… Brand loyalty would be non existent and we would be in an era, where to fuel their materialistic need, they would be become more and more individualistic and selfish.

Its not so much about wanting, desiring and demanding various products or brands… I think the innocence is lost by the exposure to the influences around them… Already there is a struggle to ‘fit in’ to a certain personality mode… into a certain environment and depressive tendencies are being exhibited by many kids around the world…

Technology also had a role to play in all this…

We feel proud when our 4 year old taps on the keyboard of the laptop or knows some of the icons on the desktop… We talk endlessly about how our kids are so comfortable with mobile phones or with technology… But isn’t there something that is lost out? Our kids are not social… they are turning into loners as they grow… their world is the screen more and more –  monitor or the mobile phone. And they are learning things way ahead of their age.. Some of the conversation I have heard between boys… turned my face red! Does Hanna Montana or such other progs (now there are Indian clones too of these progs) have any rating? I surely don’t think that these serials are for under 10 or even under 14… but how easy is it to stop the kids from viewing them?? not easy at all…

Somewhere there has to be a movement of sorts… From parents to say no to many such brands… at the risk of disappointing their kids (give up on your guilt trip) and also from the brands which would use their strong equity with the kids for doing something sensible… After all it’s these kids who are going to be the future of this world…

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