Tonight I saw a commercial. Okay - I know, I shouldn't be watching TV. Actually, I want to get rid of it, but then I decided that I need to be able to respond to my students. I need to be able to keep up with the visual literacy of my students. So, I keep the TV and watch periodically and discuss commercials.
Anyway, I saw a commercial. This commercial showed a young boy at the checkout of Walmart. The boy had some technological gadget. He whips out a wallet and states "this should cover it, my man." He hands the clerk a gift card. The boy smiles smugly and walks out with his product. The line of adults behind him look at the child in awe and admiration. The tag line says "Be A Little Shopper." (Thank you, Sara for providing me with the correct statement!)
Walmart understands the "nag factor." They understand that advertising to children encourages children to nag parents to purchase things. Now these advertisements are no longer aimed at children in order to get them to ask their parents for things. Now these advertisements are aimed to get the children to shop for themselves. It is easy to use the gift card - as easy as if it was a credit card. They are shown that shopping makes them cool, gets them what they want, and gains the admiration of adults.
It seems reminiscent of the smoking campaigns which were aimed at teenagers. Hook them when they are young and they are hooked for life. To me is seems to be stepping over a line - manipulating children to become shoppers almost seems criminal! Let's give children credit cards. Ha.
Another commercial that recently got my attention was a "Life Takes Visa" commercial. The cogs of the shopping wheel are running smoothly as people swipe their cards. One person uses cash and stops the whole machine of consumerism. Obviously, the only way to make things work smoothly is to use a credit card. Hmmm. With advertisements like these it is no wonder that are consumer debt is so high!