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to Children
In this lesson, you will read about sneaky methods that
marketers use to advertise to children. You will consider
the effects of consumerism on kids and debate whether
or not parents or advertisers are to blame.

A. Warm-Up Questions

1. What types of companies advertise to children?

“In general, my children
2. W
 hat methods and platforms do refused to eat anything
advertisers use to target young people?
that hadn't danced on TV.”
3. W
 hy are parents and doctors —Erma Bombeck, newspaper columnist
concerned about "kidvertising"?

B. Vocabulary Preview

Match the words on the left with the correct meanings on the right.

1. consumer a)  morally acceptable

2. vulnerable b)  to convince someone to behave or speak in a certain way
3. distinguish c)  a person who buys something
4. purchasing power d)  to find the differences between things
5. influence e)  to market one product while advertising a related product
6. pester f)  at risk for physical or emotional harm due to age or inexperience
7. sneaky g)  to bother someone with repetitive behavior
8. cross-promote h)  the authority to make buying decisions
9. ethical i)  to gain money or status at the expense of a vulnerable person
10. regulation j)  the lack of skill and understanding in an area or field
11. exploit k)  sly or secretive
12. inexperience l)  a rule or law

Copyright 2016, Red River Press Inc. For use by members of ESL Library in accordance with membership terms. 1
Advertising to Children

Vulnerable Consumers

1. D
 o you skip ads or get up to do an errand when 5. Is advertising to children ethical? In some
a commercial comes on? The average child under countries, there are strict regulations on
five does not. Young children cannot distinguish marketing to kids. In Sweden and Norway,
between advertising and entertainment. Older advertising to children on TV is illegal.
children and teens recognize the difference, but In Quebec, Canada, advertising to kids in
they don't consider the negative effects of ads. any way is against the law. The Advertising
It's no wonder that children and teens are the Standards Authority in the UK can ban an ad if
prime targets for so many marketing campaigns. it exploits a child's inexperience or encourages
children to pester parents to make a purchase.
2. Y
 oung kids may not have much of their own
In addition, product placement is not allowed
spending money, but they do have a lot of
in children's programming. Other countries
purchasing power. Kids greatly influence their
rely on self-regulation.
parents' purchasing decisions about groceries,
restaurants, vacations, and toys. Most parents 6. W
 hile regulations are tightening in many countries
don't realize that their kids are pestering them and industries, wise marketers know how to bend
to buy certain products or services due to ads the rules. For example, it's no secret that kids see
that have directly targeted their kids. plenty of ads on programs that are not intended
for child audiences (e.g., reality shows). There
 arge corporations find sneaky ways to market to
3. L
are also few regulations in digital advertising.
young audiences. Hiring child psychologists is one
In fact, using sponsored Internet ads that match
way. These specialists have taught marketers that
kids' search terms may be the sneakiest and
three- to seven-year-olds love to play make-believe
most profitable way to market to kids. Why
and seven- to twelve-yearolds like to collect things.
would Johnny skip or close an ad if it's the
Businesses also work together to cross-promote
most entertaining part of his online experience?
their products. For example, movie characters help
sell cereal and running shoes, and merchandise
helps sell movie tickets. Ka-ching!*
4. P
 arents aren't the only victims of "kidvertising." This is a fancy term for words that make sound. The
Many health experts blame marketers word ka-ching makes the sound of an old-fashioned
for the rising costs of childhood obesity. cash register. This word is used to describe something
Food marketing accounts for approximately that makes or costs a lot of money.
half of the advertisements North American Listen for onomatopoeia in advertising (zoom,
kids are exposed to each day. These ads feature fizz, snap, crackle, pop...). The use of onomatopoeia
everything from candy bars and soda pops is a sure sign that an ad is targeting kids.
to sugar cereals and fast-food restaurants.

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Advertising to Children

Discuss these questions in pairs, and write the answers in your notebook.

1. D
 iscuss the subtitle. 4. W
 hat example of cross-promotion
Why are kids vulnerable consumers? is used in the reading?

2. Why does the reading mention groceries? 5. W

 hat can be inferred from
the last line of the reading?
3. W
 hy would a cereal company
hire a child psychologist? 6. Give at least five examples of onomatopoeia.

Vocabulary Review
A. Complete the Sentences

Complete the sentences using a vocabulary word from page 1.

1. That's ! They're using a cartoon character to market their airline.

2. Is it to market to kids before they are

old enough to distinguish between a show and a commercial?

3. A
 fter watching a commercial for Disneyland, children will
probably their parents about going there.

4. B
 usinesses don't take self- seriously enough.
Fast-food companies should be fined for exploiting children.

5. P
 reschool children have more than you might think.
They influence many purchases, including vacations.

B. Synonyms

Circle the two synonyms in each group of words.

1. a
 ) sneaky 3. a
 ) innocence 5. a
 ) regulation 7. a
 ) target
b) mischievous b) inexperience b) rule b) differentiate
c) influence c) influence c) exploitation c) distinguish

2. a
 ) promotional 4. a
 ) annoy 6. a
 ) market 8. a
 ) pretend
b) ethical b) power b) promote b) play make-believe
c) moral c) pester c) purchase c) collect

Copyright 2016, Red River Press Inc. For use by members of ESL Library in accordance with membership terms. 3
Advertising to Children

Discuss Debate
Work with a partner or in small groups. Below are two topics to debate in small groups or
Discuss the following questions. pairs. Your teacher will tell you if you will be debating
for or against the idea. You will have ten minutes to
1. W
 hat ads do you remember prepare your arguments.
most from your childhood?
2. W
 hat types of products or services did you pester
your parents to purchase when you were a child?
Businesses have the right to market to
3. In your opinion, whose job is it to consumers. It's up to parents to make
regulate advertising: the federal government, wise and healthy consumer decisions.
local government, industry, parent, or other?
4. M
 any people agree that marketing to children is
wrong. What about using children in advertising?
Food and beverage marketers are to
Should kids be used to sell car insurance?
blame for the childhood obesity epidemic.
5. Children see thousands of ads every year.
Are there any ways that marketing
has a positive effect on kids?

Critical Thinking Writing

FROM CR ADLE TO GR AVE Choose one of the questions below.
Write a paragraph in your notebook
The goal of many big businesses is to gain customer stating your own opinion.
loyalty from an early age. The expression cradle to
grave is used to describe this marketing method. 1. Why are teens trickier to market to than kids?

2. W
 hy are teens such an important
Teens can be the most difficult, but most profitable,
target market for advertisers?
demographic for marketers. Sometimes marketers
nail it and other times, it is an epic fail. 3. W
 hat special vulnerabilities do teens have?
What do marketers do to
Which companies or brands do you see exploit inexperienced teens?
marketing from cradle to grave? How do
they do it, and how successful are they?

Teen Slang
nail (it): to do something perfectly
epic fail: a complete disaster

Copyright 2016, Red River Press Inc. For use by members of ESL Library in accordance with membership terms. 4
Advertising to Children

Useful Expressions and Transitions for Debating

Agreeing and Disagreeing Expressing an Opinion

• That doesn’t take away from the fact that... • In my honest opinion...
• That’s beside the point. • It is my belief that...
• With all due respect... • From my experience...
• I agree with you there. • From where I look at it...
• I agree with ---- (name). • From my point of view...
• I see your point, but...
• That may be true, but...
Clarifying / Rephrasing
• We’re going to have to agree to disagree.
• I get/see where you’re coming from, but... • Let’s be clear here...
• I’m afraid I disagree entirely. • I think you misunderstood what I said.
• I’m afraid I’d have to disagree. • What I said was... (repeat a point
• I agree to some extent, but... that was misunderstood or confused)
• I disagree with you there. • What I meant to say was...
• Pardon me for disagreeing, but... (rephrase something in a way that is clearer)
• In other words...
• What I was trying to say
Interrupting / Asking to Contribute
before I was interrupted is that...
• I hate to interrupt, but...
• If I may come in here...
Summarizing / Concluding
• I’d like to add something.
• Would you like to contribute something? • So let me get this straight. You think...
• I’d like to raise a point. • To conclude...
• If I could speak for a moment... • I’d just like to summarize by saying...
• I’d like to cut in here. • Finally, I’d like to reiterate that...
• You haven’t answered my question. • It’s time to take stock of what we’ve heard today.
• Both sides have some valid points.
• The stronger argument/team today is...

• Can you see where I’m coming from?

• I challenge you to give this a try/chance.
• I want you to see it my way.
• Put yourself in my shoes.
• Am I getting through to you?

Copyright 2016, Red River Press Inc. For use by members of ESL Library in accordance with membership terms. 5

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