Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Opinionator: A blog at the New York Times by Tobin Harshaw & Chris Suellenthorp

Saving children by marketing to them: How will budding consumers develop an appropriate — and magically delicious — skepticism for advertising and marketing without the training wheels provided by Toucan Sam and friends? They won’t, fears Joel Stein in his Los Angeles Times column.

Kellogg’s decision last month to stop advertising sugar cereals to kids under 12 is a disastrous mistake,” Stein writes. “I learned everything I needed to navigate our consumer culture from my close parsing of TV commercials for sugar cereals.”

Stein concludes: “Protecting kids is a natural instinct, but as soon as they learn to type, they’re going to be exposed to more temptations — edible and otherwise — than their parents can control. I’d rather risk some fat kids than a whole generation so naive about marketing that by middle age they can still be manipulated by a dancing leprechaun.”