Perspective | Are kids the advertisers shortcut to success...?

On evidence of children’s presence in advertisements, it appears that their role has grown dramatically beyond pitching only for their constituency. Their influence has widened in their families because they are “more connected” to trends, desires, and aspirations of the world than ever before. That fact is not lost on advertisers, who make kids speak for such products as motor oil, casting their voice as modern and clued-in.

Keeping this in mind  a trend has emerged whereby advertisers have started hiring kids as models for products in television commercials, though they may not be connected to the product in any way. Some instances would be commercials depicting car oils, cooking oils, car tyres, detergents  etc. where a child is used to boost the image of the concerned product making it attractive for the buyer and indirectly increasing sales for the advertiser. The child may have nothing to do with the product he/she may be modeling for but it definitely impacts the mature mindset of the young viewer who in turn influences the family as a whole.

Hence we at Adgully, caught up with certain industry personnel like Manish Bhatt, Founder Director, Scarecrow, Mayank Shah, Group Product Manager, Parle Products, Dr. Sanjay Ranade, Associate Professor, Department of Communication and Journalism, University of Mumbai and Sumanto Chattopadhyay, Executive Creative Director of Ogilvy, South Asia, to learn more about their opinions on this subject and came up with various and interesting inputs from each of them. Some excerpts from the interview:

Basically advertisements are sales promotional activities and majority of consumer products today target kids to increase sales. It is not wrong to include them in ads but when they are depicted as healthier, adventurous, brave and clever after using a particular product it may lead to disastrous results. Children’s welfare is paramount and thus consumer organizations and human right activists find their exploitation unacceptable.

Of late a trend has picked up whereby we see more kids in advertisements across the small and big screen so when asked if there any particular reason behind this,

Mayank Shah said, “It’s basically because of the pester power that kids have. The trend would increase because the kid’s pester power is increasing day by day.”

Whereas Sanjay Ranade opined that the proportion of children seen  in advertisements matches the degree of proliferation of mass media, especially on the television medium and hence does not consider the increase significant.

Manish Bhatt says, “Advertising agencies use kids in commercials depending upon brand to brand and the demand for the product. I do not think that there is any kind of trend in that. It helps the brand to create more connect. There is no doubt about the fact that kids play a large role in decision making in the family, in terms of buying any product or service. It just adds an extra value to the concept.”

Sumanto Chattopadhyay agrees with Bhatt and  opined that today kids play a very important role in influencing the decisions of the family. He says, “Firstly, it’s not that kids are only used in TV commercials they are used in movies too and secondly kids do help in the decision making process of the family. So that is the major reason why brands and ad-agencies use kids and create a brand connect and furthermore kids do have a certain kind of appeal.”

When asked to share their view point on the fact that the presence of kids in ads will ultimately result in higher sales of that particular product, Sanjay Ranade felt that the use of children has increased proportionally to the use of 'parents' as a category as well as increase in FMCG products. Hence the impact cannot be judged exclusively to the presence of children. Manish Bhatt here opined that obviously over-use would be bad. It helps only when kids are used correctly. He feels that to create long term connect with the consumers one needs to be really specific and relevant. Mayank Shah says, “Yes, it does help in boosting the sales but it totally depends upon category to category. If we talk about category like ours, kids are our TG so they play an essential role in our ads.”

Certain advertisements which deal with detergents too feature kids in it which in fact can be detrimental to their health. Sharing his views on this Mayank Shah said, “It depends on how you use them. Obviously if such categories use them appropriately, then there is no harm.”

Do advertisers consider this trend an easy way out , a  short cut to creativity or does it indicate the dearth of good ideas in advertising? Sanjay Ranade opined that Indian advertisers have shown limited originality and creativity so far. TV in India is viewed in a highly contested viewing environment and is consumed more by 'family' than individuals. Hence, he thinks it’s the family concept that is dominant in India which has always been defined by children hence the presence of children in advertisements is but natural.

On this point Manish Bhatt believed that at times it does reflect creativity and some advertisers do use it as a short cut too but it all depends how and what you reflect. Lastly he said that use of kids is not bad but they should be used more relevantly and appropriately.

Here Vikas Phadnis said that these days most children are hooked on to television and adequately equip themselves with an exposure on the small screen. The natural performance of kids in advertisements grabs the viewers' attention and fulfils the purpose of advertisers. In today’s changing times, kids represent important TG to the marketers because apart from their own purchasing power they considerably influence the parents buying decisions.  Guilt can play a role in spending decisions as time-stressed parents substitute material goods for time spent with their kids.

“Advertisers today have to adjust their strategies as per the changing world. I do not think that there is a dearth of ideas in the ad world. In fact the ideas nowadays are getting scientifically vetted by research.  Marketing agencies hire psychologists who study the various developmental, emotional needs of children at various ages and then devise marketing strategies on the basis of this relevant information,” Vikas Phadnis added.

Sumanto Chattopadhyay believes that kids do have a strong appeal and are able to influence the audience in a  faster and better way . He says, “I won’t say there is a dearth of good ideas but creativity is what works in advertising and kids happen to be a part of this. Also there are a lot of brands today which are aimed towards kids so that is another reason why there is an increase in the usage of kids in TV commercials these days.”  “Also because kids are cute and they grab the viewer’s attention quickly,” Sumanto adds.

Thus we can conclude that using kids in advertisements is basically to create a strong brand connect as per the understanding one can deduce from   the different view points shared  by industry experts | By Aanchal Kohli aanchal@adgully.com]
 

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