The fact that there & #BANNER1 & # is an overuse of kids in advertising has been a topic of debate for quite a while. Recently, ad veterans and media personalities debated on this issue, at a seminar in Mumbai, 'Prime Time 2005' organised by HR College.
Subodh Poddar, creative director, FCB Ulka, commented, "I believe there are four attractive elements in the world. These include women, children, nature and animals. Looking into the past, one will realise that even in poetic writings, there is a mention of kids. In fact, a small 'Krishna' exists in every house."
He added, "Believe me, no one observes an ad as keenly as a kid. There is no doubt that showing a kid in an ad attracts the viewers to the product, as the message goes out rather persuasively."
Poddar went on to cite the Maruti Suzuki ad, where a kid plays with a toy car and tells his dad in Punjabi, that the petrol is just not getting over. "This is clever use of a kid in advertising," Poddar reiterated.
He, however, cautioned that overuse of kids in ads in an irrelevant manner should not be done. "I personally believe the ad for an innerwear brand, where a kid has been made to say the tagline, 'Yeh Andar Ki Baat Hai', really pushed the envelope."
He commented that advertisers need to refrain from using kids just for the sake of doing it."
Moving away from advertising, Siddharth Roy Kapoor, senior vice-president, marketing and communications, UTV Group, spoke on the 'perception' that the Indian kids' channel space has become saturated.
He stressed, "If one looks at the US or the UK, there are around 50-100 kids' channels operating in the same space. In India, there are only seven. By no means is the kids' space saturated here. The only point is, it took the kids' space in India a while to open up. There is a tremendous scope for growth in India, and it has only just begun."
Vishnu Athreya, senior programming manager, Cartoon Network, tried to dispel another popular notion that there is too much violence on kids' channels these days.
"According to me," said Athreya, "There is no violence in kids' channels. There are figures which provide information on what children like to see, and what they would rather avoid. Besides, would one tout 'Hanuman' as a violent movie, just because it was action packed?" he pointed out.
"We must give certain leeway to parents, and even to kids themselves, as they understand what violence is and what isn't. After all, kids watch WWE as well, but don't subsequently become terrorists, do they?"
Adnan Chara, business unit head, LEGO Toys, discussed the use of 'Pester Power' by marketers. "Unlike adults to a very large extent, children work without too much of rationale. They are not price conscious as adults are. In my personal experience, my own daughter once asked me when I will be getting a promotion. I asked her the reason for asking this. She said innocently, 'I just want to know when you will buy us an 'Esteem'!'. Such is the power of kids."
Kapoor of UTV Group added today's kid generation is very technologically sound and aware of computers and computer games. "Kids know more about some things than their parents do. This offers a huge opportunity for marketers."
But what about encouraging education through kids' programmes on channels, rather than only entertaining them, as is done?
Athreya addressed that concern, saying, "Let's take a look at a typical Indian kid. He comes home tired after 7-8 grueling hours at school, and all he looks for on television is something which can make him laugh. He doesn't want to hear 'two plus two is four' all over again, after hearing it in school. For instance, think of the character 'Pokemon' educating kids on the Eiffel Tower."
"As a parallel example, can we imagine a 'Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi' protagonist discussing how her silk sari has been made by 83 silk worms? In the same way, such things cannot be forced even on kids' channels," Athreya concluded.
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