Sunday, May 25, 2008

They DID NOT Just Say That!?!

A recent email advertisement for PBS Kids entered my mailbox, and I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. It said in part:

The last time you asked little Johnny to stop “exploring” the neighbor’s
garden, he pretended he didn’t understand English. But that curious monkey
and the big red dog in the box with the remote control? He seems to really
respect them. Let the characters at
PBS KIDS supervise your kids’ adventures with a block of educational and entertaining programs featuring Curious George, Clifford the Big Red Dog, SUPER WHY!, and Dragon Tales. The preschool shows feature beloved characters who encourage kids to explore everything from geography to gardening to geometry.

There is an aura of the "non-commercial" around PBS, but don't be fooled, just because there aren't the conventional commercials that one is used to seeing on the network and cable channels, doesn't mean that there isn't a hook in there somewhere. I was just so surprised that they were so blatant about it! There is a tiny bit of cheekiness here to give a feeling of nudge nudge, wink wink, we're kind of joking about their ceding their parental role to a "box with the remote control," which by the way they respect more, but just barely.

For a really eye opening discussion of this disturbing trend of marketing to younger and younger children, pick up Buy, Buy Baby by Susan Thomas. These things may seem innocuous, even inevitable, but parents should not make it that easy for marketers.

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