How the Marketing We Are Exposed to As Children Plays on Our Perceptions as Adults


It’s long been believed that marketing to children isn’t child’s play because the ads we view throughout our youth play a part in our attitudes and actions as adults. Now, new studies show the extent of this exposure to reveal how both brands and the cartoonish characters they create can influence young minds for a lifetime. MediaPost.com featured these findings to explain why childhood marketing is much more than kid’s stuff.

A series of studies from the University of Arizona and Stony Brook University used iconic images from childhood ads to see whether their messages maintained any impact years after exposure. Three fascinating findings quickly developed:

  1. Adults had better opinions of brands when they recognized their characters from childhood ads. This was displayed in a comparison of two sugary cereals when adults viewed the one they remembered from childhood ads to be a healthier choice, despite no real difference.
  1. That preference persisted even after the adults had been reminded about good nutrition, regular exercise, and the danger of a child’s susceptibility to advertising.
  1. These views were so deeply rooted that they grew to affect our perceptions and preferences throughout our lives. This was demonstrated in the way that adults attributed much better qualities to other products from the brands that they recalled from childhood.

The main lesson from the research is that childhood marketing can have a cumulative affect that colors our choices throughout our lives. As a result, marketing to children can be a very smart move for brands looking to develop a lifetime of loyalty.

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