Kids are a great target group in modern society. One of the first companies to understand that small people is big money was McDonald’s, when they introduced Happy Meal.
Many other companies have soon followed the example, and today we can see in every kind of industry specifically kids-targeted strategies to attract this influent segment and their wallet-equipped parents.
Unfortunately very few of these strategies are worth to be mentioned (and some are absolutely worth to boycott). The large majority is sadly still playing with obsolete and dangerous stereotypes, especially when it comes to gender representation, that do have a tremendous impact on the youngest.
This week Prior, the biggest egg products retailer in Norway, launched new egg packaging to attract kids. The absurd thing is that the company, apparently totally missing the debate on gender issues going on in Scandinavia, designed pink princess packages of eggs for girls and blue pirate ones for boys.
Norwegian parents promptly reacted and questioned this commercial strategy on the company’s facebook page. Shortly after there was a social media storm going on, with many bloggers making fun of it. The company’s spokesperson answered in an in interview with Aftenposten that they didn’t think about gender stereotypes when creating this new initiative (seriously, how is it possible?!), that most kid-culture is based on stereotypes (sadly true, but this doesn’t take away the responsibility a company that targets kids has to do it a conscious way!) and that they are not interested in taking part in the discussion (well, then maybe it’s smarter not to create a campaign for kids based on dangerous gender stereotypes).
What leaves me astonished is the fact that 2013 there are companies (usually big ones, with consistent marketing budgets) that still use the same way to communicate to consumers, small and adult ones, like the one portrayed in the TV-drama serie Mad Men. But then it was the early 60’s, and even if a lot has evolved in the meantime, it doesn’t seem like much has happened in advertisement and consumer communication.
I think this is the golden era for smart good creatives working with consumer communication: there is a huge need to change the way companies talk to the modern conscious consumers, and for the actors who understand it promptly there are great business possibilities.
Companies that show a more responsible and conscious attitude to consumers will gain their sympathy and respect. The ones that don’t care will inevitably be quickly judged in front of the world via social media. Never as today has your brand AND your actions been so easy to love or to hate. Remember it’s all up to you and your choices!