There are three-foot high, power-wielding monsters amongst us. They’re called “children.” And with the holidays upon us, these little beasts are controlling adults (and their pocketbooks) using the malevolent force of “pester power” – aka incessant, parent-patience-eroding nagging.

Ok, so I don’t really think kids are monsters (although, see the Santa letter below). Still, “Kidfluence” is stronger than ever, with research suggesting that modern life has made parents closer to their children and are thus less able to say NO.

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The fact is: kids hold a lot of buying power ($1.2 trillion in 2012, to be exact). And we, as advertisers, also hold a powerful force that we can use for good or evil. We can manipulate impressionable young minds to hassle their parents for our own benefit (i.e., profits). Or we can use our powers for good, while still getting in some product promotion (that is our job, after all).

For example, there is such a thing as “positive pester power,” which encourages kids to “guilt-trip” their parents into doing more to fight global warming or save energy. But there’s a fine line between encouraging positive behavior and selling your product. Some brands have been doing it (moderately) well for a long time, like Crest’s Cavity Creeps. (Come on, who wouldn’t want to brush their teeth after that?) While others are a little more, um, assertive. (Hint: this is not the right way to sell your product to kids.)

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And while the debate over the ethics of kid-vertising will continue, children are the “market share of the future,” which for good or bad, makes them a desirable audience for advertisers. And we in the marketing world have a responsibility to children, because we do have a lot of influence over them. Like CMO Spiderman probably once said: “With great advertising power, comes great advertising responsibility.”

Have a positively pestering weekend, everybody. -Your only-occassionally-annoying friends at Brokaw.