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Super Bowl ads blitz kids online (+video)

As the Super Bowl approaches, parents may have concerns over how much the advertising will affect young viewers. A new study by Common Sense Media reveals that marketing to kids is already immeasurably invasive in everyday activities, beyond what they see during the game.

By Correspondent / January 28, 2014

This undated screenshot from 2013 provided by PepsiCo shows a Super Bowl advertisement for PepsiCo's Frito-Lay's Doritos played during the 2013 Super Bowl. PepsiCo's is reprising its "Crash the Super Bowl" ad contest for the eighth consecutive year, encouraging fans to vote for a fan-created videos.

PepsiCo/AP/FILE

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As the Super Bowl approaches, parents may have concerns over how much advertising will affect young viewers. However, a new study by Common Sense Media published today reveals that marketing to kids is already immeasurably invasive in their everyday activities.

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Correspondent

Lisa Suhay, who has four sons at home in Norfolk, Va., is a children’s book author and founder of the Norfolk (Va.) Initiative for Chess Excellence (NICE) , a nonprofit organization serving at-risk youth via mentoring and teaching the game of chess for critical thinking and life strategies.

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I say “immeasurable” because, according to the Common Sense Media, researchers need to develop new methods to quantify young people's exposure to advertising.

“At this point we lack even the most rudimentary research needed for policymakers to ascertain whether certain types of practices of marketing to children are fair, such as enlisting them as 'viral' marketers, enticing them to purchase products through rewards and incentives, exposing them to product placement in popular TV shows, or encouraging them to make their own ads and enter them in a contest,” according to the report.

This study points to Nielsen data estimating kids ages 2-11 see approximately 24,000 ads per year, which seems enormous until you realize that is a drop in their mental buckets, since there is also product placement (Coke paying to have all the "American Idol" judges drinking Cokes) and embedded ads (naming products in TV or film dialogue), and online ads woven into gaming experiences.

Sounds to me as if we need further study in this area so we can craft a better system of measurement in order to create some effective boundaries for advertisers.

The study points out that kids are often engaged in "immersion games," commonly referred to as "Advergames," where the brand is woven seamlessly into the plot of the game.

The study also highlights cross-marketing between companies, such as Disney and fast food chains that offer branded toys in kids’ meals, while products from the fast food chains randomly appear in the hands of characters in kid and teen TV shows.

This topic is so much of a daily battle in my house with four sons – ages 10, 14, 18, and 20 – who love YouTube and online gaming sites. My belief is that you can raise kids to think for themselves and shake this stuff off, but it’s a constant struggle to stay vigilant against the marketing push.

I have been following the video series with Anna Lappé called Food MythBusters by watchdog group Corporate Accountability International, because the tactics and science behind them are really helpful.

The advertising that goes uncounted, and which can be the most insidious and difficult to battle, is the newer practice of engaging a child’s creativity as a participant in the ad cycle. This includes the contests challenging kids to design an ad for the product themselves, or in the case of the Super Bowl, to vote for which ad will air during the game.

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