European Journal of Social Sciences – Volume 12, Number 4 (2010


Impact of Advertisement on Children Behavior: Evidence from Pakistan
Farooq Ahmed Jam Principal Author, PhD Scholar, Faculty of Management Sciences International Islamic University, Islamabad, Pakistan E-mail: Tel: +92 333 2213269 Shakeel Akhtar PhD Scholar, Faculty of Management Sciences International Islamic University, Islamabad Pakistan E-mail: Syed Tahir Hijazi Professor, Comsats Institute of Information Technology Islamabad, Pakistan E-mail: Muhammad Bashir Khan Professor, Management Sciences Department, Iqra University Islamabad, Pakistan E-mail: Abstract Impact of marketing activities (specially adverting) on children is very important and sensitive issue for the society and marketers. We explored with sample from 07 different schools 330 children and 107 parents to come up with practical insight of advertising influence on children memory and behavior in Pakistani context. Our results showed interesting findings that ads do not impact negatively to children memory and behavior. It enhances the knowledge of children and the ads targeted to children are not effective, for effective positioning of children related products marketers should target the parents and include ethical orientation along with environmental knowledge to influence the buying behavior of parents. Our study provided several key market insights and suggestions for practitioners and future researchers of marketing field.

The consumer in this era is in target of massive media attacks effectively planned, and enlighten with glamour as per the emotions, needs, wants and demands of the consumers. Marketers and companies are spending billions of dollars on consumer research and to know the important factors involved in consumer decision making. While talking about the marketing mix now a days marketers main focus is on designing persuasive messages/commercials to attract the target customers. Because the major chunk of the population and among all consumption of household a considerable portion is of children products. So marketers are focusing and trying to attract and influence the children by designing ads that are considerably attractive for children and persuasive enough for their emotional attachment with the product. While common notion is that the mother is the targeted customer for marketers of baby 663

European Journal of Social Sciences – Volume 12, Number 4 (2010) care industry. This notion is quit logical but now media and marketers are succeeded enough to generate emotional attachment of children with the products so that they can insist on purchasing the specific product for their use. This concept has created a war of massive attacks on children of this age and forced to conscious people of society about the negative impacts of these massive advertising attacks on children memory and behavior. Especially, the media, advertising and entertainment industries, collectively known as mass media, are powerful because they penetrate every segment of modern-day society and effectively influence how consumers view themselves, their neighbors, communities and the world. Although the mass media denotes outlets beyond newspapers, radio and television, and the scope of media influence now extends to digital spectrum, cable and satellite technology and the internet, it remains a fact that the TV is the single major and foremost communicator of our times. As the world has global village so now through our electronic media, access to all international channels is also easy. All these factors have contributed in the increasing aggressive attitude in youth as they see violence on electronic media in one form or another. The media, now a day, is promoting violent culture, which leave a deep impact on youth. It has caused the aggression and violence of youth instead of promotion of peace and harmony. According to, American Academy for Pediatrics Committee on Communications (AAPCC, 1995). Media violence can lead to aggressive behavior in youth. Over 1,000 studies confirm this link. It also says that Media violence is especially damaging to young children (under age 8) because they cannot easily tell the difference between real life and fantasy. Violent images on television and in movies may seem real to young children. Viewing these images can upset them. Media violence affects children by increasing their fear of becoming victims. Making them less sensitive to violence and to victims of violence. Increasing their appetite for more violence in entertainment and in real life. Media violence often fails to show the consequences of violence. This is especially true of cartoons, toy commercials and music videos. As a result, children learn that there is few if any repercussion for committing violent acts.

Review of Literature
In last 20 years impact of TV advertisements on children memory and behavior is the major topic of debates in countries open for market competition (Boddewyn, 1984).Till 1988 advertising expense of TV program raised up to $500 million approximately (Leccese, 1989).While looking at the children responses to TV advertisement a research experiment revealed that children’s food choices specially in snacks are based on their exposure to TV commercials (Gorn and Goldberg, 1982).Atkin (1981) also confirmed these findings in his experimental study and found that the children with heavy exposure to TV advertisements are more likely to recall those brands while shopping in the market and with their parents. Those children demand advertised food products and toys while moving in market with their parents. Children ranging in between 6 to 11 years of age watch TV commercials 3 hours a day and it is estimated that over the period of a year average child see about 20,000 advertisements (Adler et al, 1980). Most of the research in consumer behavior and specially on advertisement impact on children has focused two major points :(1) impact of TV commercials in shaping behavior and its positive or negative influence on children life and habits.(2) Role of TV commercials on the development and growth mental as well as physical of the children’s(Donohue, Meyer and Henke,1978). Ward et al (1972) found age as a main factor in perception and learning from the advertisement and the behavioral change is more likely to occur in older children as compared to younger one. While focusing on the TV commercials and responses from the consumer in almost 500 commercials responses were recorded by the Leo Burnett Advertising Agency and they found seven different types of responses to TV advertisement. Those responses include entertainment, confusion, relevant news, brand reinforcement, empathy, familiarity, and alienation (Schlinger 1979). 664

European Journal of Social Sciences – Volume 12, Number 4 (2010) A sad or happy program or commercial can affect the mood, and cognition of the viewer. A happy program can produce effectiveness and positive cognitive response to commercial as well as better and effective recall (Goldberg and Gorn, 1987). Galst and White (1976) proposed a cause and effect relationship and found strong correlations between TV advertisement exposure of children and their purchase preferences as well as amount of purchase while shopping with their parents. Results of a two method study on snacks and sugar foods revealed that effectively designed message in TV advertisements can generate action and effectively persuasion in children for purchase of the product (Goldberg, Gorn and Gibson, 1978). It was predicted that children’s age is the factor that determines the effectiveness and persuasiveness of TV advertisement in children. Younger children are less likely to differentiate among TV programs and commercials so they pay more attention to TV ads as compared to older ones (Blatt, Spencer, and Ward 1972; Robertson and Rossiter 1974; Ward, Levinson, and Wackman 1972; Ward, Reale, and Levinson 1972; Ward, Wackman, and Wartella 1977) Voojis and van der Voort's (1993) stated that there is a marvelous body of literature representing that watching aggressive television is linked with augmented hostile attitudes and behaviors. This relationship is particularly distinct in childhood, whose comparatively restricted knowledge and cognitive capital make them especially susceptible to television. The essential mania comes out here that children try to copy the advertisement in which they get concerned and we have been reading lot of occurrence in the media regarding copying issue. Those children tried to copy the ads or film senses we will be going to test this in our hypothesis. Television has the prospective to cause both positive and negative special effects, and numerous studies have appeared at the bang of television on society, principally on children and adolescents. An individual child’s developmental level is a significant factor in determining whether the medium will have positive or negative effects. Not all television programs are bad, but data showing the negative effects of contact to aggression, unsuitable sexuality and disgusting language are convincing. We will be hypothesizing that ads impact negatively to the children’s memory as well as their behavior ,and we will also be testing in another hypothesis that ads enhances the knowledge of children about the environment. The quantity of aggression on television is on the rise. The normal child see 12,000 aggressive act on television annually, as well as numerous interpretation of assassination and rape. Further more than 1000 studies authenticate that experience to serious doses of television violent behavior increases violent behavior, for the most part in boys. Other studies link television or newspaper exposure of suicides to an increased suicide threat. (Position Statement, Canadian Pediatric Society, 2003). A Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report discovered what many supposed: media corporations were normally neglecting their own ranking limits and aggressively advertising cruel amusement to children and teens (Media Awareness Network, 2005). Over the last 30 years there has been extensive research on the relationship between televisions violence and violent behavior among youth. Longitudinal, cross-sectional, and experimental studies have all confirmed this correlation (Beresin.V Eugene, 2005). Prior to the birth of TV, this has discovered new entertainment opportunities for the families. People were not much emotionally linked with the means of amusement they had like radio, live theater. By submerging the people in too much entertainment, the media has created a new culture for the youth that has kept them so immersed that many of them have become unusual.

On the basis of above review we hypothesized following relationships among media (Advertisements) and their impact on children memory as well as their behavior of buying. We additionally hypothesized the relationship between children focused advertisements and their impact on product sales. H1: Children try to copy and rehears the advertisement. H2: Children insist on buying advertised products. 665

European Journal of Social Sciences – Volume 12, Number 4 (2010) H3: Ads targeted to children are effective in selling children related products. H4: Ads impact negatively on memory and behavior of children. H5: Ads enhance the knowledge of children about the environment.

We selected seven schools in Rawalpindi, Pakistan focusing on children’s below age 16 years. Two questionnaire one 9 item for children and other of 10 items for the parents were administered to collect the data from 500 students of seven schools and 200 of their parents. Among 500 distributed questionnaires to children 360 returned back and among 200 of parents questionnaires only 110 were back filled with response rate of 72% for children and 55% for parents. Further analysis excluded 30 responses from children’s and 7 responses from parents due to improper filling and bad handwriting. So actual sample comprises of 330 for children and 107 for parents.

Questionnaires were prepared in Urdu for the full understanding of respondents and special attention was paid on language to make it as easier as possible to understand. Data were inferred and tabulated using simple excel program and percentages are given for clarity of results. We used double response from parents and children’s to minimize the single response bias and to see weather parents confirm the responses of children or not. To check the understanding of questionnaire a pilot testing was done in first school and results were 100% satisfactory that children easily read and understand the concepts asked in questionnaire. Due to unavailability of any standard questionnaire we used our own questionnaire as per Pakistani context to tap the real impact of media and advertisement on children. We presented the findings separately as taping per item in questionnaire. We used simple excel program for calculating percentages, we used percentage method intentionally to make our findings more simple and understandable. Following questions were asked in the questionnaire: 1. “You have separate room for TV in your home”. 2. “Cable is available at your home”. 3. “You watch TV with your parents”. 4. “You like TV advertisement”. 5. “You shop things of your choice or your parents shop things for their own choice”. 6. “You go for shopping with your parents”. 7. “Ads help you in making decision for purchase”. 8. “You try to copy the ads”. Children Responded at these questions with “YES” or “NO”. Because of children sample and significant portion of sample was below 12 years of age we just provided them option of “YES” or “NO” to avoid from any confusion. Although school in sample were English medium but for more reliability and understanding we converted our questionnaires in URDU. Same questions were asked from parents with little changes in questionnaire to encounter single source bias problem. Additional questions asked to parents are: 1. “You care for your children choice while making a purchase decision”? 2. “Does Ads influence children’s buying choices”? 3. “Ads impact negatively to behavior of your children”? 4. “Ads enhance the knowledge of children regarding environment”?


European Journal of Social Sciences – Volume 12, Number 4 (2010)

All results obtained against each item are given in numbers and with percentages to elaborate the findings of study. We divided these into two tables. Table 1 explains the responses of children against 9 item questionnaire. Table two explains the findings from parent’s responses with 10 item questionnaire.
Table 1: Children Responses
Yes 61 (18%) 256 (78%) 166 (50%) 152 (46%) 277 (84%) 174 (53%) 83 (25%) 153 (43%) 122 (37%) No 262 (82%) 74 (22%) 49 (15%) 108 (33%) 9 (3%) 23 (7%) 178 (54%) 102 (31%) 156 (47%) Some times ----115 (35%) 70 (21%) 44 (13%) 133 (40%) 69 (21%) 75 (23%) 52 (16%)

Questions Separate rooms Cable Availability Watch TV with parents Likeness of Ad Parents shop for children Children go for shopping with parents Ads influence on buying Ads help on buying Children try to copy

Table 2:

Parents responses
Yes 11 (10%) 86 (80%) 166 (50%) 22 (26%) 43 (40%) 70 (65%) 25 (23%) 40 (38%) 46 (43%) 78 (73%) No 96 (89%) 21 (20%) 49 (15%) 40 (38%) 39 (36%) 15 (14%) 54 (51%) 56 (52%) 36 (24%) 15 (14%) Some times ----115 (35%) 45 (42%) 25 (24%) 12 (11%) 28 (26%) 11 (10%) 25 (23%) 14 (13%)

Questions Separate rooms Cable Availability Watch TV with Children Impact of Ad on buying Ads help on buying Care for children choice while shopping Ads influence children on buying Bad impact on children Children try to copy Knowledge Enhancement

When we asked for separate TV rooms 18% children replied of course while 82% have common room in their homes. While parents confirmed these findings with 11% responses in yes and 89% confirmed that they have common rooms for tv and they watch TV along with their children. So this finding has insight for advertisers and marketers to mould their messages as per family influencing rather than focusing on children only. Even they are targeting for child related products. Also the findings regarding cable availability were reported almost same by both respondent groups.80% people have cable connections in their home while 20% of the sample not having this facility. So this finding is of great importance for marketers who want to position their products among the urban community. They can use local cable ads for that purpose instead of going on international channels and wasting lot of money. Responses regarding watching tv with family were found exactly same and both groups reported 50% in YES and 15 % in NO and 35% to some times. Whether advertisements impacts on buying choices of children or not. Both groups have consensus in this hypothesis and findings rejected the hypothesis 2 proposed by us.54% of children reported no influence on buying choices while 51% parents confirmed their findings. Only 15% children and 26% parents agree that ads impact on buying choices of children’s. Remaining 30 to 35 % reported some time influence on buying choices. Among the sample 84% children responded that their parents shop for them, only 3 % reported NO and 13% reported mix results. While parents responded that 65% of them care for children choices while shopping for them, 14% take no care for children choices and 11% gave mix results. So both answers are insight for marketers that they have to focus to 667

European Journal of Social Sciences – Volume 12, Number 4 (2010) children or their parents. Because children can have a bad impact from advertisement and they have very little purchasing power so marketer should focus on parents while advertising for child related products because they are the actual decision makers in purchase for children. These findings disagree with our Hypothesis 3 and suggest that marketer should focus on parents to influence them and sell them child related products instead of focusing /targeting the children in tv ads. While results of another question relevant to this gives controversial results regarding children insist on buying advertised things while buying with their parents. Our findings show that 53% of the children’s go for shopping with their parents but 65% parents care for children’s insist on buying. So from this finding it looks positive to target the children but 26% children and parents are agree that ads can influence the buying choices but 56% not agree with it. Children may insist on buying but not affected by the advertisement. So wasting billions of dollars in advertisement to position the product in the mind of children is useless, this strategy might be useful in products like confectionary items etc. These findings rejected the H: 3 of our hypothesis that children targeted ads are not effective in generating sale for child related products. Marketers should keep in mind while doing the job of media planning. While our hypothesis regarding bad impact of ads on children memory and behavior was rejected because only 38% parents agreed on it while 52% were not agreed and only 10% were in between. This finding was quite surprising for us because in our review our main focus was on bad influence of media and advertisement on children memory and behavior to make them assertive and violent. But our sample rejected this H: 4 that ads do not impact negatively on behavior of children. While 43% parents and 37% children found agreed on that children try to copy the ads while 47% children and 24% parents were not agree on copying the ads contents. H: 5 of our hypothesis was strongly supported that 73% parents responded in favor that ads enhance the knowledge of children about the environment. This again gives key insight to marketers that ads promoting ethical standards and good knowledge are liked by the parents. As we proposed earlier that targeting children for child related products is useless and marketer should focus on parents instead of children. This insight can help marketers how to target the parents while positioning children related products. Ads with promotion of ethical standards and widely accepted norms could get marvelous attention of parents and could be the cause of ever high sales volumes.

We started with the aim to explore the role of advertisement in influencing the behavior of children and our findings provided astonishing insights for future researchers and marketing managers. We ended up with the findings that ads didn’t help buying behavior but children insist on buying things they like while shopping with their parents. And the reason for this insistence was proved to be personal not the impact of advertising. We find mix results that they try to copy the ads, and parents rejected the notion that ads negatively impact the behavior of their children, while they were agree in majority that ads enhance the knowledge of their children. We discussed several key insights for practitioners and future researchers. What we believe this study has a great importance for marketers involved in positioning and advertisement and will definitely add value in marketing literature regarding impact of marketing practices on society especially on children.

Limitations and Futur Research Implications
Future researcher must test these findings in different cultural context to support our findings or if any different results found. There are some limitations of study regarding sample selection because entire sample is taken from only one city of Pakistan so it may not be the true representative of population. Life style, economic condition and per capita income of that area might have some influence on the community in sample. Another major limitation of our study is that lack of grounded theory for our hypothesis support. We tried our best to find relevant literature in good generals but due to uniqueness 668

European Journal of Social Sciences – Volume 12, Number 4 (2010) of the concept we didn’t succeeded to add that in our study. Most of our references are from newspapers, internet and media sites. Third major limitation of our study is regarding the validity and reliability of our measuring instrument, we adopted the questionnaire from (North and Kotze, 2001) and make required changes in their scale as per our sample, we translated it into Urdu for the need of our sample population. Although we tried our best to make the process standardized but the sole reliability and validity of our instrument is referred to them. Despite of all these constraints we tried our best to follow the standard research procedures and styles for our study and hopeful that our sincere attempt will add very little value in this stream of research.

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