Advertising to Children: Concepts and Controversies


Edited by: M. Carole Macklin & Les Carlson

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  • Chapters
  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Part I: In Search of What Children Know and Think about Advertising and How Advertising Works

    Part II: Societal Impact and Concerns

    Part III: Advertising Directed to Children about Cigarettes, Smoking, and Beer

    Part IV: Future Directions for Research

  • The American Academy of Advertising

    In 1957, Dr. Harry Hepner (Syracuse University) presented the idea of an organization for advertising educators to Robert Feemster, advertising director for The Wall Street Journal and chairman of the Advertising Federation of America. Feemster agreed such an organization would be a good idea and asked Dr. J. Leroy Thompson, first director of the Dow Jones Educational Service Bureau, to invite teachers to attend the 1958 Dallas AFA conventions.

    Attending that first 1958 Dallas meeting were:

    • Donald Davis (Pennsylvania State University)
    • Jerry Drake (Southern Methodist University)
    • Milton Gross (University of Missouri)
    • Harry Hepner (Syracuse University)
    • Donald G. Hileman (Southern Illinois University)
    • Frank McCabe (Providence, R.I.)
    • Royal H. Ray (Florida State University)
    • Billy L. Ross (University of Houston)
    • J. Leroy Thompson (Dow Jones Educational Service Bureau)

    Hepner explained that there was no organization servicing advertising teachers in business and journalism schools. Gross and Drake, active in the national professional advertising fraternity, Alpha Delta Sigma, did not join the Academy at the beginning. The others decided to proceed with the framework of an organization and named interim officers. At Hepner's recommendation, academy titles were used for the officers: Hepner as National Dean; Ross as National Associate Dean; George T. Clark, New York University, as National Registrar; and McCabe as National Bursar. The first year was devoted to increasing membership and developing a structure. The second national meeting was held in Minneapolis, June 7–10, 1959. The interim officers were elected to continue in their positions for a one-year term.

    During the 1960–1961 year, membership grew from 123 to 241. The Academy established relation with the Associations of National Advertisers, Association of Industrial Advertisers, and the American Association of Advertising Agencies.

    Today, the Academy has over 600 members. The Executive committee of the Academy, which meets twice a year, consists of a President, President-Elect, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Past President, and Executive Secretary; the nationally elected President of the Academy annually appoints over 60 members to approximately 11 committees. The Academy maintains relationships with many advertising-related associations, including INAME and the Accreditation Council for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.


    The Academy is established as a professional organization for teachers in advertising and for industry professions who wish to contribute to the development of advertising education.

    The general objectives of the Academy shall be:

    • To provide an organization through which all persons interested in advertising education may coordinate their efforts to advance academic and professional advertising.
    • To assume leadership, especially in academic circles, for an objective and realistic appraisal of the functions and responsibilities of advertising in modern society.
    • To strive for increased recognition by both educators and industry professionals of the value of and need for professional education programs for advertising.
    • To stimulate research in advertising, especially research about professional educational programs for advertising.
    • To develop closer liaison with academic disciplines with which advertising is concerned, not only in such primary fields as business administration, communications, journalism, and public relations, but also in the behavioral sciences, humanities, and other liberal arts areas.
    • To encourage closer cooperation among teachers of advertising for the development and better use of teaching materials and methods, for the expansion of recruiting programs, and for sponsorship of scholarships and internships, in order to attract and to develop talent for the field of advertising.
    • To develop closer liaison with the many organizations associated with the advertising industry.
    Academy Website

    The American Academy of Advertising maintains a website, available via Internet, to assist Academy members in keeping current with the Academy.

    • The Academy Website is at:http://Advertising.Utexas.Edu/AAA
    • This website contains listing of all Academy committees, Constitution, By-Laws, etc.
    • Website manager is Joe Bob Hester, Texas Tech University.


    View Copyright Page


    Advertising to children is a topic that has consistently stirred debate over the past 25 years. Numerous reasons explain the keen interest. First, the extent of children's understanding of advertising messages is unclear. Second, some fear that children may not comprehend the persuasive aspects of advertising; therefore, children are unable to defend against messages. Such concerns have been exaggerated, perhaps, by the increase in spending to capture the children's market. It has been estimated that U.S. television advertising directed to children cost $894 million during 1996 (Crowe 1997). Advertisers have been willing to spend large amounts because they realize that the children's market is huge. McNeal (1998) estimated that children under 14 years spent $24 billion in direct purchases and influenced family spending by another $188 billion during 1997. Obviously, marketers wish to learn whether their money is well spent in approaching this market. Moreover, parents, educators, and concerned others want to learn how effective communication directed to children really is.

    Our purpose is not to present a review of the vast number of research studies published in the past few decades. Such reviews are available (e.g., Young 1990). Rather, we wish to present cutting-edge research on topics of current debate, such as cigarette advertising, plus address children's advertising more broadly. Our goal is to present state-of-the art research that addresses the following: what children know and think about advertising; how advertising works with children; what issues are in the forefront of societal and public policy thinking. Moreover, we look to the future as we present what leading advertisers and academicians believe are topics ripe for research.

    In the first section of the book, we include works that examine children as an advertising audience in the following ways: what they know and think about advertising, how they view television, and how they derive meaning from messages. We are pleased to begin our collection of chapters with one by Deborah Roedder John. As a leading researcher over the past 20 years, she reviews the research literature on different-aged children's knowledge, understanding, and feelings about advertising. Her chapter will help the reader understand why children of different ages hold varied views of advertising. In Chapter 2, Tamara Mangleburg and Terry Bristol increase our understanding of children's skepticism toward advertising. They offer us a socialization explanation, focusing on how skepticism is learned through interaction with parents, peers, and television. Robert Abelman and David Atkin help the reader gain a better grasp on children's viewing motives and viewing patterns in the third chapter. Not only do these authors profile the child television viewing audience, they also identify three distinctive viewer archetypes. In the fourth chapter, Cindy Dell Clark provides us with a holistic perspective on children and advertising. She argues that children actively construct meaning when viewing advertising by using the processes of personal and cultural symbolism. Thus, the reader gains a fuller understanding of the dynamic interaction between the child and the ad.

    In Part II, we present primary research that assesses societal impact and concern. Alison Alexander, Louise M. Benjamin, Keisha Hoerrner, and Darrell Roe contribute to our understanding of children's advertising before it became a fashionable research topic. In Chapter 5, they examine commercials from the 1950s in programs aimed at the child market. Their content analysis shows marked distinctions from commercials in modern decades. In Chapter 6, Ann Walsh, Russell Laczniak, and Les Carlson increase the reader's understanding of how parents view children's television. More specifically, they segment mothers according to their parental styles. Then they examine how the particular segments view various options regarding the regulation of children's television. Darrel Muehling and Richard Kolbe continue the regulatory theme with a specific examination of advertising disclosures. In our seventh chapter, they find fine-print disclosures to audiences to be different between prime-time and Saturday morning viewing times. Mary Martin, James Gentry, and Ronald Hill also present differences, this time between girls and boys when reacting to magazine ads. In Chapter 8, they assess adolescent girls' and boys' evaluation of ads and brands that use physically attractive models as endorsers. Girls, but not boys, with poor body images seem affected most by ads with physically attractive models. In the last chapter of this second part (Chapter 9), Bonnie Reece, Nora Rifon, and Kimberly Rodriguez continue with the human body theme. Their content analysis of food ads shows that ads targeted to children contain some nutrition information. However, their work shows that even greater emphasis is placed on other themes (such as taste and excitement) that may ultimately affect children's health.

    In Part III, we include recent and basic research on today's two hot buttons: smoking and alcohol. Chapter 10 presents work by Laura Peracchio and David Luna regarding the discouragement of smoking initiation among children. Public policy makers will be particularly interested in how these researchers use a youth attitude assessment to develop an analogy-based advertising campaign with the purpose of discouraging smoking initiation. In the eleventh chapter, Barbara Phillips and Liza Stavchansky contribute to our further understanding of underage smoking by studying cigarette characters (Joe Camel and the Marlboro cowboy). They report that while these characters do send positively identified messages, junior high students were more skeptical and more negative toward these characters than some advertising critics might believe. Richard Fox, Dean Krugman, James Fletcher, and Paul Fischer use eye tracking to monitor how young people view print ads for cigarettes and for beer. As they bring the third part of the book to a close (Chapter 12), these researchers express concern for the one-third of the sample who did not look at the cautionary statement to “think when you drink” and the almost 25% who never fixated on the warning message on the cigarette ad. Their work suggests that we may have to pay careful attention to the communication power of various warnings.

    Our final section of the book, Part IV, provides wonderful challenges for the reader. We are proud to present the insights of leading advertisers and academicians as to what they see as future topics for our research. Christine Wright-Isak raises three important issues in Chapter 13: how we accumulate information about children, how we develop safeguards for children about their participation in new technologies, and how appropriately advertisers are communicating with children about brands and products. Carole Walters challenges us in the fourteenth chapter to improve our understanding of how children respond to information via the Internet. She highlights children's apparent ability to multitask, an ability whose impact we little understand. Another leading academician of long standing, Marvin Goldberg, points out in the fifteenth chapter that we have often failed to contrast effects between younger and older children. For example, the literature on cigarettes and youth typically focuses on 13- to 18-year-olds while neglecting to examine younger children (2- to 12-year-olds). Finally, in Chapter 16, Jeffrey Stoltman presents us with a broad view of a number of topics and approaches that are needed to further our understanding of children and advertising. For example, he points out that we know little about the short- and long-term effects of children's exposure to communication intended for adult audiences.

    We hope that after reading this book your interest in the topic of children and advertising will be stimulated. We thank all of the authors for their insightful and informative contributions. It is our sincerest hope that this book will spur additional high-caliber work in children's advertising.

    Crowe, Bill (1997), ‘Advertisers See Big Buys in Little Eyes’, Broadcasting & Cable, 28 (July), 47–48.
    McNeal, James U. (1998), ‘Tapping the Three Kids' Markets’, American Demographics, 20 (April), 37–41.
    Young, Brian M. (1990), Television Advertising and Children, New York: Oxford University Press.
  • About the Editors

    Les Carlson is Professor of Marketing, Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina. He received his Ph.D. in Business (Marketing) from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His work on advertising and socialization effects has been widely published in such journals as Journal of Advertising, Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, Journal of Consumer Affairs, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, and Journal of Business Research. He has served as the editor of the Journal of Advertising.

    M. Carole Macklin is Professor of Marketing, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio. She received her Ph.D. in Business Administration from The Ohio State University in 1981. Her research on issues of advertising and marketing to children have appeared in such journals as Journal of Advertising, Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Advertising Research, Journal of Consumer Affairs, Marketing Letters, and Psychology & Marketing. She is an active member of the American Academy of Advertising, serving as President (1999).

    About the Authors

    Robert Abelman (Ph.D., University of Texas-Austin, 1982; M.A., Michigan State University) is Distinguished Professor of Communication and Assistant Dean of Arts & Sciences at Cleveland State University. His research interests include media literacy and media literacy education, particularly among exceptional child populations. He serves as a consultant to the children's television industry and children's advocacy organizations.

    Alison Alexander (Ph.D., Ohio State University) is a Professor and Department Head of the Department of Telecommunications, Grady College of Journalism & Mass Communication, University of Georgia. She works in the area of audience research, with a focus on children and the family.

    David Atkin (Ph.D., M.A., Michigan State University) is Professor of Communication at Cleveland State University. His research interests include past and present diffusion of new media, and the access opportunities they create for underrepresented groups.

    Louise M. Benjamin is Associate Professor, Department of Telecommunications, Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Georgia. Her research areas are media history, telecommunications policy history, and contemporary media law and policy. She has published numerous scholarly book chapters and journal articles in communication publications.

    Terry Bristol (Ph.D., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 1992) is Assistant Professor of Marketing & Advertising at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. His research interests include the acquisition of skills by younger consumers through socialization and those factors researchers can control that impact focus group output.

    Cindy Dell Clark (Ph.D., University of Chicago) has done research with children on a consulting basis for prominent national clients (including McDonald's, Nestle, Oscar Mayer, Kraft, Nike, Frito Lay, Coca Cola Foods Division, and others), and has been a researcher at a national advertising agency (Leo Burnett). In addition, she has taught numerous college and graduate level courses, including both social sciences and consumer behavior, and has authored several academic publications. She current teaches at Rutgers University Camden. She holds an interdisciplinary doctorate, a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago Committee on Human Development.

    Paul M. Fischer (M.D., University of Connecticut), was one of the first researchers in the areas of the influence of tobacco advertising on children, and the limitations of in-ad warnings for tobacco products. His research identified the widespread recognition of “Old Joe,” the Camel cartoon character, by very young children. He served as an expert witness to the state Attorneys General in their now-settled suits against the tobacco industry. He currently serves as CEO of Center for Primary Care, a multisite health care provider in Augusta, Georgia.

    James E. Fletcher (Ph.D., University of Utah) is Professor of Telecommunications and Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Georgia. He is Editor of Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, a refereed journal of the Broadcast Education Association. He is known for research on physiological effects of communication messages and commercial testing, as well as audience measurement for the electronic media. His latest work addresses higher education curricula for the 21st century.

    Richard J. Fox (Ph.D., Michigan State University), is Associate Professor, Department of Marketing and Distribution, University of Georgia. Before joining academia, he worked in consumer research for over 10 years at Procter & Gamble. His publications have appeared in numerous academic journals, including the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Public Opinion Quarterly, Journal of Advertising Research, and the Journal of Advertising. He is coauthor of a marketing research textbook, Marketing Research Principles and Applications.

    James W. Gentry (Ph.D., Indiana University) is a Professor in the Department of Marketing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He has served on the marketing faculty at Kansas State University, Oklahoma State University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His current research interests focus on issues in cross-cultural consumer behavior and in family decision making.

    Marvin E. Goldberg is the Irving and Irene Bard Professor of Marketing at Penn State University. He is a past president of the Society for Consumer Psychology. Among the editorial boards on which he serves are the Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Consumer Psychology, and Journal of Public Policy and Marketing. His current research involves theory-based interventions aimed at inhibiting alcohol and cigarette usage among adolescents. His research has been published in a wide variety of scholarly journals.

    Ronald Paul Hill (Ph.D., University of Maryland) is a Professor in and Dean of the School of Business Administration at the University of Portland, Oregon. He holds B.S., MBA, and Ph.D. degrees in business administration from the University of Maryland at College Park. Previously, he served on the faculties at Villanova, Cornell, American University, George Washington, and University of Maryland at College Park. He has published over 80 scholarly works in major journals and professional proceedings on topics including marketing management, advertising, health care, consumer behavior, and ethics.

    Keisha Hoerrner (Ph.D., University of Georgia, 1998) is an Assistant Professor in the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University. Her research interests include pedagogical training in graduate programs, children and television issues, and electronic media regulation. She teaches media law, electronic media law and policy, research methods, and mass media industries and behavior, and is currently developing a special topics course on children and television.

    Deborah Roedder John (Ph.D., Northwestern University) is the Curtis L. Carlson Chair in Marketing, Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. She served on the faculties of UCLA and the University of Wisconsin prior to her appointment at Minnesota. She has published widely in major marketing journals, including the Journal of Marketing Research, the Journal of Consumer Reseach, and the Journal of Marketing. She is a member of the editorial boards of these three journals as well as the Journal of Consumer Psychology and the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing. She has served as an associate editor for the Journal of Consumer Research and is currently the founding editor of the Monographs of the Journal of Consumer Research. She has also served as president and treasurer of the Association for Consumer Research. Her current research interests focus on children and consumer brands, especially the measurement of brand equity in children and the meanings of brands to children of different ages.

    Richard H. Kolbe (Ph.D., University of Cincinnati), is an Associate Professor of Marketing at Kent State University. His research involves issues related to children and advertising, fine print in advertising, fan loyalty in professional sports, and the use of content analysis data collection methods. His publications have appeared in the Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Advertising, Journal of Current Issues and Research in Advertising, Sex Roles, and other academic journals and proceedings. He is a member of the editorial review board of the Journal of Advertising and the Journal of Current Issues and Research in Advertising.

    Dean M. Krugman (Ph.D., University of Illinois) is Professor and Department Head, Department of Advertising and Public Relations at the University of Georgia. His Ph.D. in communications research (1977) and M.S. in advertising (1972) are both from the University of Illinois at Urbana. He holds a B.S. in journalism from Southern Illinois University (1970). His expertise is in the areas of marketing communication research, how people deal with media change, and how people process warning information. One of his recent studies on audiences and advertising received the 1995 outstanding research article award from the Journal of Advertising. He has published articles in several other leading academic journals (e.g., Journal of Advertising Research, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, Journalism Quarterly, Journal of The American Medical Association, and Health Communication).

    Russell N. Laczniak (Ph.D., University of Nebraska) is Associate Professor of Marketing, College of Business, Iowa State University. His research foci include the effects of advertising targeted at children and consumers' processing of marketing communication. He has published in numerous journals and proceedings, including the Journal of Advertising, Journal of Current Issues and Research in Advertising, Journal of Public Policy and Marketing, Journal of Consumer Affairs, Journal of Marketing Communication, and Journal of Business Research.

    David Luna (Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) is Assistant Professor of Marketing at Chapman University, Orange, California. His research interests include marketing to children, cross-cultural consumer behavior, and the application of psycholinguistics theories to advertising. His research has appeared in the Journal of Advertising, Advances in Consumer Research, and the proceedings of a number of national and international conferences.

    Tamara F. Mangleburg (Ph.D., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University) is Associate Professor of Marketing at Florida Atlantic University. Her research interests include the consumer socialization and behavior of children, family decision making, and self-concept effects on persuasion. She has published articles on these topics in the Journal of Advertising, Journal of Consumer Affairs, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, and Advances in Consumer Research. She is a member of the editorial review board for the Journal of Macromarketing.

    Mary C. Martin (Ph.D., University of Nebraska-Lincoln) is Vice President of Sun Global, Charlotte, North Carolina. Her work has been published, among other places, in the Journal of Advertising, Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, and Psychology and Marketing.

    Darrel D. Muehling (Ph.D., University of Nebraska) is Professor and Chair of the Department of Marketing, Washington State University, Pullman. His research on consumer responses to advertising has been published in numerous advertising/marketing journals, including the Journal of Advertising, Journal of Current Issues & Research in Advertising, Journal of Advertising Research, and Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, among others. He currently serves on the editorial review boards of the Journal of Current Issues & Research in Advertising and the Journal of Marketing Communications, and is President-Elect of the American Academy of Advertising.

    Laura Peracchio (Ph.D., Northwestern University) is a Professor of Marketing at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She also has degrees in marketing and psychology from the Wharton School and the College of Arts and Sciences of the University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on how marketing information impacts young children and how visual information impacts consumers of all ages. Her research has been published in the Journal of Consumer Research and the Journal of Marketing Research. She has received awards from the Marketing Science Institute and the American Marketing Association for research excellence.

    Barbara J. Phillips (Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin) is an Associate Professor of Marketing at the University of Saskatchewan. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Advertising from the University of Texas at Austin, and her undergraduate degree in Marketing from the University of Manitoba (Canada). Her research interests include spokes-characters, rhetoric in advertising images, and popular culture. She has published papers in such journals as the Journal of Advertising, Journal of Advertising Research, and the Journal of Business Ethics.

    Bonnie B. Reece (Ph.D., University of Michigan) is a Professor and the Chairperson of the Department of Advertising at Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan. She teaches Advertising and Promotion Management as well as Quantitative Research Design, both graduate-level courses. Her research interests have focused primarily on children as consumers, nutrition claims in food advertising, and the advertising of prescription drugs directly to consumers.

    Nora J. Rifon (Ph.D., City University of New York) is an associate professor in the Department of Advertising at Michigan State University. She holds degrees in psychology from the University of Rochester (B.A.) and the State University of New York at Binghamton (M.A.). Her Ph.D. in Business is from the City Unversity of New York Graduate Center. She is interested in all areas of consumer behavior and advertising, but has focused much of her research in the area of consumer health decisions and related advertising and promotions. She has coauthored a textbook, two book chapters, several journal articles, and conference proceedings.

    Kimberly Rodriguez (M.A., Michigan State University) is an Assistant Account Representative at J. Walter Thompson in Chicago, on Oscar Mayer Lunchables. She previously worked on the Kraft Macaroni & Cheese account at Foote, Cone & Belding Chicago after graduating with a master's degree in advertising account management from Michigan State University.

    Darrell Roe (Ph.D., University of Georgia) is currently an Assistant Professor in Media Arts at Marist College. He has taught at the University of Georgia, Sam Houston State University, and Cameron University. Professionally, he has worked in radio and TV His research interests include: telecommunications history, production aesthetics effects, and educational television. He recently presented a paper critically analyzing the portrayal of women in a TV western miniseries. Another paper explored visual intensity effects on cognitive resource shifting. Currently, he is working on two books: Telecommunications Revolutions and Legislation of Maritime Wireless Telegraphy (1903–1912).

    Liza Stavchansky is a doctoral candidate in advertising at The University of Texas at Austin; she expects to finish her dissertation in December 1999. She received both her M.A. in Advertising and her undergraduate degree in Marketing from the University of Texas at Austin. Her research interests include direct-to-consumer (DTC) prescription drug advertising and marketing. Recently, she presented a special topics session regarding DTC advertising and marketing at the 1999 American Academy of Advertising Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

    Jeffrey J. Stoltman (Ph.D., Syracuse University) is a Professor of Marketing at Wayne State University. His academic interests are focused on aspects of promotion and marketing strategy, consumer research, and public policy. He has worked in academia for over 20 years, has served as a consultant to several Fortune 500 firms, and is currently serving as University Vice President for Marketing and Communications.

    Ann D. Walsh (Ph.D., University of Nebraska) is Assistant Professor of Marketing, College of Business and Technology, Western Illinois University.

    Carole Walters (Bachelor of Commerce, University of Alberta) joined NSL in 1984 as Media Director. Prior to NSL she was Broadcast Supervisor at J. Walter Thompson, Vancouver, B.C., and Associate Media Director at McKim Advertising, Vancouver, B.C. She currently serves on the American Association of Advertising Agencies Interactive Marketing and New Media Committee, and consults on the development of an Interactive Media Studies curriculum for Miami University.

    Christine Wright-Isak (Ph.D., University of Chicago) is former Senior Vice-President, Account Planning Director, Young & Rubicam New York. She is now president of her own marketing consulting firm, Northlight Marketing, Inc. She is a member of the American Academy of Advertising, the AAA Publications Committee, and is Chair of the AAA Industry Relations Committee. She is also a member of the Association for Consumer Research, The Market Research Council, and Chief Judge of the Advertising Effectiveness Awards (The “EFFIES”) from 1992–1997. She served on the Policy Board of ACR and Chaired its special Academia-Industry Relations Task Force in 1994. She served as Chairperson of the Advertising Research Foundation Qualitative Workshop, October 1998.

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