The phrase ’it was never like that in my day’ never rang so
Today, children divorce their own parents, take A-levels before they
reach their teens and warrant their own advertising and marketing
In the past month, Britvic has launched two soft drinks brands, Juice Up
and Fruit Shoot, with national TV campaigns that pitch the products
directly at a junior audience. In this case, as young as nine years old
and both with a cast of children.
The Juice Up spot features three Welsh children speaking to the camera -
two are a couple, the other is the girl’s best friend. All three give
their reactions to a bit of two-timing that’s been going on while
handling a bottle of the new drink. The endline is ’Up Juice’.
Fruit Shoot is sold on the idea that the drink can make you more mature,
so rather than argue over a line call during a game of tennis, one of
the teenage players immediately capitulates to her opponent’s call of
’out’. In the second execution a footballer, who is lined up perfectly
to score a goal, passes to a less able player so that he can score.
Andrew Marsden, the marketing director at Britvic, says that advertising
to children in this way is nothing new.
’It’s always been that way - kids are our consumers,’ he says. ’They are
immensely literate about the communications world, technologically very
advanced and extremely sceptical of the whole process. Also, you have to
remember that these ads show kids behaving in a very responsible
Nonetheless, this is a change of direction for the parent Robinsons
brand, which has, traditionally, aimed its advertising to a more
’Robinsons has always focused a lot of its activity on mum,’ Russ
Lidstone, the planner on Fruit Shoot at HHCL & Partners, says. ’Mum has
always been the ally. We are using the sub-brands such as Fruit Shoot
and Juice Up to contemporise the Robinsons brand, but still involving
mum by buying family airtime.
’We have a fundamental belief, backed by research, that kids know the
difference between advertising and programming and can easily
discriminate between the two.’
The perks on offer to children today far outweigh anything their parents
had to choose from - internet access whenever and wherever they want it,
televisions in their bedrooms, mobile phones and a whole host of loyalty
schemes aimed directly at them.
This month, Burger King launched its Buzz Kard, a loyalty card scheme
for children aged ten to 16, offering them discounts on CDs at HMV.
At the same time, Hitachi and Mondex are developing a smart card that
allows children to shop on the internet and marketers to track their
The Kid Card will offer children a virtual city where they can surf
sites that target their specific age group. The creation of a virtual
wallet is also designed to increase the levels of e-commerce undertaken
by children which, up until now, has been low because of the reliance on
parents’ credit cards.
Under the new scheme, a smart chip will allow parents to limit the
amount of cash held on the card.
According to Mondex’s own research, teens will be spending pounds 800
million a year online by 2002.
The move to a more independent childhood is, according to Marsden,
simply the way of the world.
’Whether it’s good or bad, it’s the world we live in,’ he says. ’There
is an element of naivete from parents. The world they grew up in no
longer exists - you shouldn’t over-protect children, but that’s a much
bigger issue than just advertising to children.
’The fact is that most kids today have a TV in their bedrooms, so the
nine o’clock watershed is a figment of the imagination, but most parents
don’t recognise that. Services such as SMS messaging allow for very open
communications, that is a given now and you’ll never stop it. You have
to learn how to cope with it and educate children to deal with it
However, the growth of pester power is making it more difficult for
parents to exert control over their children’s purchasing habits.
A report out this month, Targeting the Youth Market, examines how
teenagers are highly skilled at manipulating parents who feel guilty
about the lack of time spent with their children.
Datamonitor shows that, from an age as young as ten, children are
increasingly reluctant to do anything for nothing and feel that
household chores should be rewarded with cash or gifts.
The Co-op chain of stores recently stirred up debate on the issue by
asking the Independent Television Commission to ban all television
advertisements for unhealthy foods.
Pestering is a fact of life, according to Lionel Stanbrook, the deputy
director-general at the Advertising Association.
’Pester power has always been there. Kids pester their parents because
of the overall permutations of what’s going on in society. It’s a
time-honoured characteristic of the parent/child relationship and not
reliant on advertising - it happens when kids see something in a shop
window,’ he says.
’What is more worrying is children seeing ads that are obviously aimed
at an adult audience, but that’s more an issue of taste and decency. I
can’t see anything intrinsically wrong with what Britvic or Robinsons
This article was first published on Campaign