Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Direct to kid advertising

How upset do you get when you see drug ads which say, "Ask your doctor about..." This just burns me up sometimes! I see both sides of this in that patients come in and ask me about their medical conditions. But on the other hand, they sometimes demand to be placed on what they saw on television.

In the marketing world, they call this "direct to consumer" advertising. This has definitely transformed the sales of prescription medications. OTC manufactures have also followed suit. (What's that product you apply directly to the forehead? AHHH!)

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently published a report stating that children and adolescents are constantly exposed to advertising on television, and even in schools. If adults can be lulled into these ads, think of the effect on children.
"Advertisers have slowly but steadily infiltrated school systems around the country," the [AAP] committee [on communication] writes. "The '3Rs' have now become the '4Rs,' with the fourth R being 'retail.' Ads are now appearing on school buses, in gymnasiums, on book covers, and even in bathroom stalls," notes the AAP.
I defninitely agree with this. In doing more research on this, I found an article from the Palm Beach Post talking about marketing to kids for toys and video games.
Nine times. That's the average number of requests a kid has to make before Mom and Dad cave and buy a toy, according to a national survey commissioned by the Center for a New American Dream, a Maryland-based consumer group.

That's if Mom and Dad are lucky. One of every 10 kids ages 12 to 13 cheerfully reported he asks his folks more than 50 times for something he really, really, really wants.
Then, there's this article from USA Today talking with James McNeal who wrote a book about direct marketing to kids.
Last year, marketers spent $1.4 billion per month marketing to children — 15% more than the year before, McNeal says. "I call it 'surround selling.' "

Mattel Brands President Neil Friedman says Mattel will spend half its ad budget — estimated at $460 million by Advertising Age — in the fourth quarter.
The American society makes such a big deal of people like drug dealers and predator teachers preying on innocent children. In my opinion, there is another group who should be included in this outrage.

Frankly, advertising, as an industry, should be ashamed of itself. To target those in our society who are most vulnerable to slick marketing techniques is deplorable. Parents are put in the precarious position of trying to de-program their kids from the daily onslaught of these brainwashing messages. They're using your kids to help their bottom line. What do you think about that? Happy Holidays....


Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you on this. Not all schools, however, are caving in to this. Some have banned anything commercial. Of course, you can't do anything about the attire, so some advertising is still seen.

Anonymous said...

I have a friend that does not let her kids watch TV for this very reason. It has worked quite well for her so far. I am thinking of doing the same thing since I am a mean mother and would not cave in if I had made up my mind not to get my child something.

PS If you are on Blogger Beta the changing of colors in a template is super easy and there are no worries about deleting things. I was never brave enough to really mess with my template too much pre-beta.

Tom Bailey said...

Sounds like someone has watched "what the bleep" or something. A parent has had to "reprogram" kids since others kids at school existed. Parents now have different ways to reprogram that never existed before.

Being a doctor raising kids it has always been challenging right?

Anonymous said...

It isn't just kids . . . the elderly are preyed up by advertisers as well.

Anonymous said...

preyed upon . . . is what i meant to type!

My typing sucks lately . . .

Anonymous said...

I think this is just something we have to deal with as long prescription drug prices are unregulated and drug companies have a profit motive. I think I would support this and, who knows, the political will to do it may even exist within my lifetime. For now, we just have to educate people and if a particular patient shouldn't be on a particular drug which he/she requests, it's up to us to give them a good, convincing reason.

Mother Jones RN said...

Note to parents: Just say no. We teach people how to treat us, and that includes our kids. Remember when your parents gave you the "death look."
You knew when to back off. We need to get back to some basic concepts, including the one that says that parents are in charge.


The Curmudgeon said...

Tom Bailey said it very well: A parent has had to "reprogram" kids since others kids at school existed.

My father used to watch the cartoons with me so he could start deprogramming me right away during the commercials. I've done it with my kids, too. It's just part of the job. And, besides, then I get to pick out what cartoons we watch!

Anonymous said...

Direct Marketing is a real pain in the ass, especially if you have little kids that are just old enough to sort of understand what they see on tv!!!! One just has to stand firm and NO means No, not maybe we will see or later or, ah well you know what I mean - Great post!!!

Anonymous said...

No is a word that a lot of parents seem unable or unwilling to use these days.

Big Lebowski Store said...

Or you could do what the Flea family did: Fail to buy a new TV when the old one dies. It works for us.



Anonymous said...

What I have the most trouble with is my elderly patients hearing ONLY the part of the marketing ad that tells the possible dangerous side effects. They become convinced that the medication will cause them those exact side effects and refuse to take the med. (I'm not saying that side effect information is not pertinent, but I'm having trouble convincing some people that just because a possible side effect is listed it doesn't mean that they can't take that med with a doctor's supervision.)

vagus said...

yea. pharmaceutical advertising is a multimillion dollar thing.
p/s happy holidays. happened to chance upon ur blog.

Anonymous said...

PBS has a great campaign that teaches older kids how to be media savvy:
PBS Don't Buy It Site

It's not just on TV but on-line, too. I don't think avoidance as parents is the key but being with our kids when they watch TV and find teachable moments to help them understand the marketing world. The AAP is right on the mark but making a dent in the industry they are going after will take some time.

By the way, I recently found your blog and love it!

Happy Holidays!

Dr. Gwenn

Anonymous said...

I find that a lot of these commercials could be virtually incomprehensible to the average (majority of the population) consumer. Most of them seem to show happy, healthy people smiling etc... and then the hook: "Ask your doctor if this drug might be right for you?"

A lot of the time, the use for the drug or a condition is never stated so I can't imagine how a consumer would even know why to ask their doctor about the drug they saw. The commercials are so vague that half the time, a woman (if she really didn't know better) might go in and ask for Viagra!

Okay, that might be a bit of a stretch but you get the idea. However, who knows? Maybe there are still women out there who don't know what Viagra (or Cialis) is, who don't have access to internet search engines or email accounts that get repeatedly spammed!

And then the "Legal Disclaimer" where some of the "some side effects may include..."

Half the time, I'm rolling on the floor by this point. I mean, some of the lists are so long and with not even knowing what why you would be taking the drug? The commercial seems to be more of a joke on the pharmaceutical company!

Everyone I've ever spoken to thinks they're a joke too so maybe I just hang with a more educated crowd?

I just find them annoying and stupid.

It's me, T.J. said...

I tell my kids "no" the first time they ask.

And my "no" has always meant "no", "nada", "no way", and "definately not".

So I don't get hounded with a lot of secondary requests from my kids, much less 50.

This is because my first answer doesn't ever change.


Anonymous said...

That sucks totally and completly sucks and is just wrong.. sick and twisted to prey on children. I think I will teach my children the joy of making things;) toys included.

skinnylittleblonde said...

I'm not sure if it is factual or not, but I heard somewhere recently that over 70% of all prescriptions written are requested or initiated by the patient.
Our TV & magazine ads are saturated with pharmaceuticals... so I find 70% conceivable. Their ads seem to create needs as opposed to wants, which makes them very effective, IMHO.

Recently a co-worker told me about having to taking her toddler to the doctor. When they went to leave & were saying their good-byes, she said the little girl said 'Hey, don't forget to ask your doctor about Lunesta.' C'mon now.

Food items & establishments, I notice, also seem to zone in on kids.
Good Post, thank you :)
Happy Holidays!

Anonymous said...

Nice blog. Like the humour. I'm caring for my terminally ill husband and try my best to find plenty to laugh and smile about.

Nathan said...

While I wholeheartedly agree that this kind of advertising is a bit low, I think grouping advertisers with drug dealers and predator teachers is rather hyperbolic. After all, consumerism may be a bad thing, probably is a bad thing, but it's nowhere near as bad as sexual molestation or drug addiction. Not even close.

Anonymous said...

We have to note that many schools receive funding by placing these ads in their schools - maybe if the government placed more of its taxes on education and less on bombs, they would have more critical minds growing in healthy environments....

Just a thought...


Dr. A said...

Nathan, it was hyperbole just to make a point. Maybe I'm guilty of hyping things up a little bit as well...

NFC, that's a good point. Many medical professional organizations receive funding from pharmaceutical companies for things like education (ie - funding of med student conferences and continuing medical education conferences). There's debate right now in the medical community of acceptance of such funds. One side that all educational conferences should be pharma-fund free to insure no bias. The other side say that if you go pharma-fund free, then registration fees would go through the roof and attendance would drop significantly. A lot of people (including me) are carefully watching this debate.

ipanema said...

Another of those marketing ploys. It is through this method that companies get their desired market to achieve desired profit. Advertising is a powerful tool and as far as examples above, it's effective.

However, putting them in textbooks, school buses,etc. is by far the most outrageous and equally so are the authorities who patronize those advertisers. They get paid if they run those advert campaigns. Who gains at whose expense?

Why not for a start boycott those school products advertising in there? This is utterly downgrading the educational system. Commercialization to the extreme. Parents should be wary of this. It isn't healthy at all.

That's plain and simple brainwashing. If advertisers have no qualms in exploiting children, parents should exercise more authority on what their children must have.

Luring the unsuspecting gaullible minds of society. That's the evil of advertising. And yes, shame on them.