It is not like I like let my six year old son watch a ton of TV. In fact I am pretty picky about what and how much Jackson watches.
But despite his limited exposure to marketers, he is still fully informed about what hot toys he simply needs.
Often when a new toy arrives for us to review, he already knows all about it, “Oh cool – I totally wanted this…” And he rambles off the toys must-have-features while I fumble around for half an hour trying to open the package. (Why must they secure toys with all that impossible to cut or unravel plastic wire?)
The marketers have a completely unfair advantage.
These are KIDS! You could offer them a grenade with a cartoon figure drawn on it and they would point and beg, declaring to us, “I NEEEED it!” and “No, I won’t get hurt – I PROMISE!” and “It is not fair! EVERY other kid in my class has one!”
Marketers have the easy job.
And we parents are stuck with kids addicted to licensed toys, gadgets and everything else a company can turn into kid candy.
Or, we can just give in.
And drive for an hour searching for a Burger King to buy a “Happy” meal that comes with a little plastic “iDog” that lights up when you push a button.
But no mother would really do that.
OK, in my defense, at least I so rarely take my son out for fast food that I didn’t even know where a Burger King was in our city!
But for the past two weeks, Jackson had been begging to go to Burger King after seeing the commercials for the iToy Happy Meal.
We were out in the neighboring suburb for his music lesson and I decided that sure, we could go by Burger King this one time. It can’t hurt.
Only problem was, I forgot my iPhone at home. And I had no idea where the nearest Burger King was. But it couldn’t be that hard to find – right?
Apparently Burger King is not a popular destination in our area. I found every other fast food option none to North America, but no Burger King.
After searching for half an hour, I was too committed to the cause to give up. I thought I remembered that there was a Burger King in the neighborhood where I used to work, so against all parenting logic, we headed to another neighboring suburb.
But by the time we got there, Olivia had had it. She was screaming. So I declared defeat, pulled into a parking lot to turn around and realized I was in a Burger King parking lot!
Jackson squealed with six year old delight and danced in circles as I changed Olivia’s diaper on the van floor.
When we got into the Burger King, I was relieved to see that indeed they had the toys. I bought two iCats (if one broke before we got home, I certainly wasn’t coming back!) and was pleasantly surprised that Burger King had some healthier meal options. Jackson ordered Kraft Dinner, Milk and an applesauce. The portion of mac n cheese was really just an appetizer size for my son’s man-sized appetite, but I was pleased that he wasn’t dining on copious amounts of salt and trans fat.
The whole iToy adventure took us about an hour out of our way. And yes I gave into marketing.
But really – doesn’t marketing make the world go round?
And when I want my son to brush his teeth, eat his vitamins or put on his pajamas, I often reach for the good old licensed character trick myself.
Why mess with something that works.