Advertisers are leaving no stones unturned in targeting kids and using them as messengers
By Dhruv Bhatia

Advertising attacks the senses. The fact that we know it only tells us there is no escape from it, especially during the wakeful hours. It moulds the lifestyle of every single demographic group known to us. This is what leads hitting-themus to flipcart-1ponder on the point of children being one of the key demographic targets in the modern era of advertising. Now why is that? Well, because they influence the buying behaviour of the parent, the spender, and hence the primary target. To put it simply, they can pester their parents to buy a certain product though they lack real purchasing power.
The modern day children are technologically savvy and often preoccupied with the latest gadgets, video games, electronic pads and more. God help the parents. Take the Nintendo Wii or the Sony Playstation Move as examples. The family’s indoor fun quotient would be incomplete without the stubborn child getting his hands on one. Fast food giants like McDonald’s advertise the Happy Meal to keep children walking in with their parents. Try saying ‘no’ to a child who wants the Happy Meal. It’s not the burger or French Fries they are after, it is the toy that animates them – often their favourite cartoon character or comic book hero. Kwality Walls wouldn’t leave children out of their advertisements either.
But these are brands targeted at children. Recently, Honda released a TV commercial for the 2014 Honda City. The ‘All new Honda City – The Greater Drive’ campaign was given shape by the Honda branding team of Anita Sharma, Shakeel Anjum, Prashant Bhatnagar and Ramneek Dhar. Their concept depicts a lesson to the children that the finer things in life will be theirs only if they go to school and study hard, In this case, it’s a fourth generation Honda City. As Soumitra Karnik, creative head, Dentsu Marcom, explains, “Honda City has always been an aspirational car for the audience and the advertising brief was how to make an already great car greater in the minds of the consumers. We concentrated on the theme ‘A Greater Drive’ offered by the ‘One Class Above’ attributes of the Honda City and its target user who is sophisticated, stylish, an achiever but most importantly a class above the rest.”
from-smallOne interesting campaign by creative agency Happy Creative Services India Private Limited for online shopping portal Flipkart came in 2011 in the form of children depicted as adults. The campaign ‘No Kidding – No Worries’ has made its mark on TV viewers’ minds, owing to its unique approach of using child actors to communicate the ease of shopping on Flipkart.
“We started off using kids for the Flipkart campaign in March 2011. We were trying to educate people about how effortless and trustworthy online shopping with Flipkart was. It was important to flipcart-2keep the communication direct and simple. So the challenge was to deliver something unique in that space. The choice of using kids came from the fact that culturally Indians love kids, so we were sure that would get people’s attention and create some point of differentiation,” Kartik Iyer, CEO of the agency, tells WCRC Leaders Asia.
According to Campaign India, TBWA had rolled out a campaign for Pedigree, a packaged dog food brand, to break the belief that what is good for humans should be good for dogs too. “The objective of the campaign is to shake the dog owner out of this autopilot and start questioning the belief that human food is good enough for dogs,” said Nirmalya Sen, COO – North, TBWA India. The campaign featured popular child artist Diya Sonecha who appealed to the ‘cute’ sensibility of the target consumer.
Discovery Kids have developed a whole new section to engage children. Using the educative format, this increases Television Rating Points and the kids get hold of new information. Campaigns like ITC’s Candyman ‘Ab Lag Gaya’ and the Nestle Polo ‘Keep Your Cool – Beta Sweater Pehno’ support the programming.
From small companies to huge multi-billion dollar corporations, every one realises that children often dictate the terms and conditions of engagement with a brand that is not even meant for them, often leading to final purchase of a product.
This has led advertising agencies to identify suitable touch points to drive the message through to kids, to engage them more. One could debate on the ethical and moral aspects of this but the trend is definitely not going away any time soon.