Mischievous marketing to children.
A few days ago, my son Fintan, 8, asked a question that made me wonder at the deviousness of marketers.
“Do Smarties make you smarter?”, he asked, most innocently. He seemed quite prepared to believe that they did.
“No, Fintan, it is just a name.”
He didn’t seem entirely satisfied with that. I intuited his unspoken thoughts as being along the lines of: “If they don’t make you smarter, why call them that, then?”
This little exchange drove me to ponder the freedoms we give marketers: they are allowed to call their products anything at all – yet, sometimes, they don’t seem to use this freedom honestly. Fintan was right. There IS the suggestion in the name “Smarties”, that the product is connected, somehow, to smartness. It IS a fair and quite reasonable step to infer, as Fintan had, that the product must be so called, because, somehow, it induced “smartness”. Indeed, perhaps that is exactly the reason they were named “Smarties” in the first place. Perhaps, they wanted children, all over the world, to associate their product with smartness and consume them, therefore, in increased numbers, motivated by the illusion that they were going to enjoy positive cognitive change.
Children and unintelligent adults are susceptible to manipulation through the naming and marketing of products. It would seem wise, to me, to place safeguards on the naming of products so that false associations and inferences are not attached to products, for the purpose of increasing sales to vulnerable groups. Fintan is a bright child. He is socially very switched on. Yet, his conclusion when faced with a product named: “Smarties”, is that they must induce smartness – for why else call them that? How many other children, around the world have the same, perhaps unvoiced thought? How many of them UNCONSCIOUSLY make that link and are motivated to buy them? It is a somewhat disturbing thought. In a way, there is something unethical about naming a product with a reference to a property it doesn’t have, creating an association it cannot fulfil. Smarties don’t make you smart – but they might make you fat, or your teeth rot, if overly consumed. That would be a fair set of truer associations to link to the product, than “they make you smart”.
The funny thing is, that, until Fintan pointed it out, I had never reflected on the implications of the name “Smarties”. Sometimes, children are quicker to see the broader truths of things, in their world, than we are. Perhaps that is because they are thinking about them for the first time, and trying to find meaning in them – whereas adults, in some ways, have lost that habit, to some extent.
Thank you, Fintan, for your question. Smarties won’t make you smarter – but perhaps thinking about them will.
Posted by Valentine Cawley
(If you would like to support my continued writing of this blog and my ongoing campaign to raise awareness about giftedness and all issues pertaining to it, please donate, by clicking on the gold button to the left of the page.
To read about my fundraising campaign, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2011/01/fundraising-drive-in-support-of-my.html and here: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2011/01/fundraising-drive-first-donation.html
If you would like to read any of our scientific research papers, there are links to some of them, here: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2011/02/research-papers-by-valentine-cawley-and.html
If you would like to see an online summary of my academic achievements to date, please go here: http://www.getcited.org/mbrz/11136175
To learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, 10, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, 7 and Tiarnan, 5, please go to: http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html
I also write of gifted education, child prodigy, child genius, adult genius, savant, megasavant, HELP University College, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, Malaysia, IQ, intelligence and creativity.
There is a review of my blog, on the respected The Kindle Report here:http://thekindlereport.blogspot.com/2010/09/boy-who-knew-too-much-child-prodigy.html
Please have a read, if you would like a critic's view of this blog. Thanks.
You can get my blog on your Kindle, for easy reading, wherever you are, by going to: http://www.amazon.com/Boy-Who-Knew-Too-Much/dp/B0042P5LEE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1284603792&sr=8-1
Please let all your fellow Kindlers know about my blog availability - and if you know my blog well enough, please be so kind as to write a thoughtful review of what you like about it. Thanks.
My Internet Movie Database listing is at:http://imdb.com/name/nm3438598/
Ainan's IMDB listing is at http://imdb.com/name/nm3305973/
Syahidah's IMDB listing is at http://imdb.com/name/nm3463926/
Our editing, proofreading and copywriting company, Genghis Can, is athttp://www.genghiscan.com/
This blog is copyright Valentine Cawley. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited. Use only with permission. Thank you.)