Take That, Marketers!

Praying mantis

Image by Shiva Shankar (via Wikipedia).

My husband took our 6.5-year-old daughter to her first in-the-theater movie yesterday. Well, first not counting the 3D bugs film she saw once in an IMAX theater and spent the whole time saying loudly, “What’s that? Oh, no! What’s that? Does it eat people?” while attempting to ward off with her hands the praying mantis that was jumping at her from the screen. (We solved the problem by having her watch without the 3D glasses.)

At any rate, this was the first time she had the opportunity to sit through twenty minutes of commercials before the feature began. As a child who doesn’t watch television except what’s on DVDs and Netflix, she needed some explanation from my husband about what these miniature shows were. My husband explained that people make them to convince people to buy things.

“What are they trying to sell here?” he asked.

“A car,” our daughter answered. (When she’s a little older, we’ll explain that they’re not actually selling the car, they’re selling a lifestyle and a set of emotions, but for now, this is a decent lesson in being an aware consumer.)

“Does this ad make you want to buy a new car?”

“No, because we already have a car.”

When the next ad came up, they had a similar exchange.

“They’re selling a camera,” she said.

“Does it make you want to buy a new camera?” he asked.

“No, because we already have a camera.”

Then came another ad.

“What are they selling in this one?” my husband asked.

Our daughter thought about it for a moment.

“I don’t know, but it’s in that bottle.”

It was an ad for Coca-cola.

SCORE! A victory over consumerism without even moving to the country and living off the grid! (All we had to do was get rid of pay TV, homeschool, and avoid shopping malls and mainstream eating establishments and grocery stores.)

3 comments

  1. Zoie @ TouchstoneZ · December 30, 2011

    Exactly! My kids watch things without commercials (PBS, dvds) So, whenever they do encounter an ad, we also have conversations about it. If nothing else, I hope it will teach them to stay mindful while watching instead of passive as most of us are when watching. If they stay active, my hope is that they’ll be able to decide for themselves and resist some of the carefully crafted psychological manipulations, er, ads. Or they’ll rebel and be naively exposed to them (they do have some of my genes, after all) and all this brain training will be for naught…

    Like

  2. Katie · December 29, 2011

    Elise and Addie are exposed to commercial television at their grandparents house. Elise’s first reaction to them was: “I like these little movies, but I don’t understand why they keep interrupting what I’m watching.”

    Like

    • CJ · December 29, 2011

      I love it! Actually, our kids watched some tv when we were living in the hotel (it was on in the common areas during the hotel-provided breakfast and dinner, which were pretty much required because you know how my husband feels about free food), and our daughter had a similar response to Elise’s. Except she didn’t mind the interruptions because the tv was always on CNN.

      Like

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