CLOSE-UP: LIVE ISSUE/ADVERTISING TO CHILDREN - Are children an advertiser’s perfect audience? The Juice Up ads are only the beginning in child-led marketing

By JADE GARRETT,, Friday, 25 August 2000 12:00AM

The phrase ’it was never like that in my day’ never rang so true.

The phrase ’it was never like that in my day’ never rang so


Today, children divorce their own parents, take A-levels before they

reach their teens and warrant their own advertising and marketing


In the past month, Britvic has launched two soft drinks brands, Juice Up

and Fruit Shoot, with national TV campaigns that pitch the products

directly at a junior audience. In this case, as young as nine years old

and both with a cast of children.

The Juice Up spot features three Welsh children speaking to the camera -

two are a couple, the other is the girl’s best friend. All three give

their reactions to a bit of two-timing that’s been going on while

handling a bottle of the new drink. The endline is ’Up Juice’.

Fruit Shoot is sold on the idea that the drink can make you more mature,

so rather than argue over a line call during a game of tennis, one of

the teenage players immediately capitulates to her opponent’s call of

’out’. In the second execution a footballer, who is lined up perfectly

to score a goal, passes to a less able player so that he can score.

Andrew Marsden, the marketing director at Britvic, says that advertising

to children in this way is nothing new.

’It’s always been that way - kids are our consumers,’ he says. ’They are

immensely literate about the communications world, technologically very

advanced and extremely sceptical of the whole process. Also, you have to

remember that these ads show kids behaving in a very responsible


Nonetheless, this is a change of direction for the parent Robinsons

brand, which has, traditionally, aimed its advertising to a more

parental audience.

’Robinsons has always focused a lot of its activity on mum,’ Russ

Lidstone, the planner on Fruit Shoot at HHCL & Partners, says. ’Mum has

always been the ally. We are using the sub-brands such as Fruit Shoot

and Juice Up to contemporise the Robinsons brand, but still involving

mum by buying family airtime.

’We have a fundamental belief, backed by research, that kids know the

difference between advertising and programming and can easily

discriminate between the two.’

The perks on offer to children today far outweigh anything their parents

had to choose from - internet access whenever and wherever they want it,

televisions in their bedrooms, mobile phones and a whole host of loyalty

schemes aimed directly at them.

This month, Burger King launched its Buzz Kard, a loyalty card scheme

for children aged ten to 16, offering them discounts on CDs at HMV.

At the same time, Hitachi and Mondex are developing a smart card that

allows children to shop on the internet and marketers to track their

online behaviour.

The Kid Card will offer children a virtual city where they can surf

sites that target their specific age group. The creation of a virtual

wallet is also designed to increase the levels of e-commerce undertaken

by children which, up until now, has been low because of the reliance on

parents’ credit cards.

Under the new scheme, a smart chip will allow parents to limit the

amount of cash held on the card.

According to Mondex’s own research, teens will be spending pounds 800

million a year online by 2002.

The move to a more independent childhood is, according to Marsden,

simply the way of the world.

’Whether it’s good or bad, it’s the world we live in,’ he says. ’There

is an element of naivete from parents. The world they grew up in no

longer exists - you shouldn’t over-protect children, but that’s a much

bigger issue than just advertising to children.

’The fact is that most kids today have a TV in their bedrooms, so the

nine o’clock watershed is a figment of the imagination, but most parents

don’t recognise that. Services such as SMS messaging allow for very open

communications, that is a given now and you’ll never stop it. You have

to learn how to cope with it and educate children to deal with it


However, the growth of pester power is making it more difficult for

parents to exert control over their children’s purchasing habits.

A report out this month, Targeting the Youth Market, examines how

teenagers are highly skilled at manipulating parents who feel guilty

about the lack of time spent with their children.

Datamonitor shows that, from an age as young as ten, children are

increasingly reluctant to do anything for nothing and feel that

household chores should be rewarded with cash or gifts.

The Co-op chain of stores recently stirred up debate on the issue by

asking the Independent Television Commission to ban all television

advertisements for unhealthy foods.

Pestering is a fact of life, according to Lionel Stanbrook, the deputy

director-general at the Advertising Association.

’Pester power has always been there. Kids pester their parents because

of the overall permutations of what’s going on in society. It’s a

time-honoured characteristic of the parent/child relationship and not

reliant on advertising - it happens when kids see something in a shop

window,’ he says.

’What is more worrying is children seeing ads that are obviously aimed

at an adult audience, but that’s more an issue of taste and decency. I

can’t see anything intrinsically wrong with what Britvic or Robinsons

are doing.’

This article was first published on


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