Marketing Campaigns Aimed At Children

In stark contrast to the marketing campaigns that are targeted towards adults, the ones that cater to children as their target audience, need more scrutiny and regulations. After all, children, tweens and teenagers have impressionable minds. As a general rule, most of these campaigns utilize cartoon mascots, characters from literature and pop culture, freebies, and fantasy themes. Unicorns and rainbows anyone? These types of tactics are now considered standard practice for a tried-and-true formula.

Here are some prominent statistics, which explain why the formula works and why it’s marketing to children is so profitable.

According to Commercial-Free Childhood,

  • This generation of children is the most brand conscious ever and tend to develop a fierce brand loyalty.

  • Companies spend about $17 billion annually marketing to children and children under 12 influence $500 billion in purchases per year.

  • Teens between 13 and 17 have 145 conversations about brands per week, about twice as many as adults.

  • Children ages 2-11 see more than 25,000 advertisements a year on TV alone, a figure that does not include product placement.They are also targeted with advertising on the Internet, cell phones, mp3 players, video games, school buses, and in school.

  • Viral marketing techniques take advantage of children’s friendships by encouraging them to promote products to their peers which these do. Word of mouth marketing is huge in the among children and especially teens.

Additionally, Marketing 3.0 further explains the ‘why’ of marketing-based biased towards children.

  • At two years of age, brand loyalty begins.

  • An average three-year old can recognize 100 different brand logos.

  • Is it a commercial? Is it a television show? Toddlers are unable to distinguish between the two.

  • Only after the age of eight can children being understanding the misleading nature of many advertisements.

Still need more proof as to how deeply-rooted marketing campaigns are aimed at children?

Marketing On Special Occasions

Holiday Marketing Gimmicks by Toy Companies

In 1993, super flashy catalogs were tucked in mailboxes or newspapers. The game has changed and toy companies already seem to know what children want for the Holiday season! Some of them also opt for debatable digital ‘unboxing’ campaigns practiced by toy companies as a lure for their young target audience.

So, if you are a parent and reading this, then probably, your kid already knows about the latest toy craze in town – Hatchimals. And it is likely, that they came to know about those from the internet, if not anything else!

Marketing to Children During Adult Entertainment


One of the biggest and most watched sporting events – the Super Bowl, is a marketing paradise. Everyone makes a beeline to grab eyeballs and get some quick visibility for their brands and business. And last year’s Super Bowl event was no different in this regard, mind one exception — The beer commercials in the event were targeted at children.

Yes, you read it right. As part of their annual tradition, Budweiser’s most recent Super Bowl ad featured the brand’s signature Clydesdale’s, and a puppy. D’aww. Sounds cute, but the last time we checked children love puppies, (and horses) and the pup featured in the commercial was downright adorable. So in a way, the ad did target children! The ad plants the seed to develop brand loyalty at an early age.


Doritos is another brand that makes an annual appearance during the Super Bowl with their Crash The Super Bowl contest; After a decade, Doritos ran their final Crash the Super Bowl contest in February 2016. Much like this clip, many of their winning selections featured child actors and even made them heroes (or rather, cowboys) in targeting their youth demographic.

Marketing By Promising Free Goodies

McDonald’s Happy Meal

When it comes to freebies for children, the first thing that comes to the mind are McDonald’s Happy Meals. For many years, the fast food company has made its way into children’s hearts with their collectible Happy Meal Toys. Even amid cries of foul play, children are heavily influenced to eat food encouraging obesity. It is basically exploiting the “have toys, will buy” philosophy and children often fall for it.

It’s worth noting that marketing aimed at children is not always on the wrong foot. There are several instances of marketers targeting children for all the right reasons, and in the right manner. Here are two of the better examples when marketers got it right.

Penny the Pirate

Penny the Pirate is a book app specifically for testing the eyesight of children as they read. The app provides results which based on their results will give parents the option to book an eye test instantly. The ad campaign for the book hinges on parental concern and the emotions of childcare.


[Leo] Mattel’s Barbie has been making the dreams of millions of little girls for a long time and it has had its share of hits and misses. In their latest commercial, the toy-makers capture people’s reactions as a bunch of young girls live their dream jobs in an adult world! It shows how passionate these little ones are and, how serious they take their dreams. Only, in the end, it shows that the girls are all playing with their Barbies in a make-believe-world, where they are living their dreams. With tons of emotional appeal and dollops of cuteness overload along with promises of a bright future, the ad succeeds at being motivational and tugs at heartstrings of both.

What’s next?

Due to the advent of digital mediums and subsequently digital advertising, it is getting increasingly difficult for children to stay away from its influence and for parents to keep a ‘hawk’s eye’ over their children. So, with internet marketing thrown into the mix it becomes necessary to monitor and regulate campaigns. And even more important is to protect their interests as consumers.

For instance, recently, the WHO [World Health Organization] urged governments to, “Set a minimum legal age of 16 for advertising foods high in fat, salt or sugar.” This step came into being as the current regulations about advertising these foods apply only to traditional media and not digital media. Or, most of the time, it applies to young children and not adolescents.

In the U.S., the COPPA [Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act] limits how much data can be collected from young children, and bans “behavioral advertising” directed at children under 13 without parental notice and consent. Even with these measures in place, the regulations overseeing these marketing campaigns will take time to develop. We want to know your thoughts on this. Voice your opinion by leaving us a comment.