Why we buy junk food (and other junk)

Parents beware: advertisers use attractive cartoon characters to lure children to junk food.

Safia Kaleem March 02, 2011
Ever noticed how a six-year-old screams in excitement at the thought of junk food and squeals in pain at the thought of fruits and vegetables?

While many parents accuse the persuasiveness of food companies’ marketing strategies for their children’s avid interest in junk food, they are guilty of the same tactic. Whether it’s the Popeye story to get kids to eat spinach or Bugs Bunny to get them to eat carrots, parents employ the same strategy.

But it is not just kids that are gullible in the face of such immaculate marketing; it is every aunty that gasps at lawn billboards and marks her calendar for an upcoming exhibition, it is every uncle that plans 10 years ahead of time when he sees a premium banking, mortgage or insurance package.

Junk food items gross the highest revenues because of their targeted marketing strategies. Junk food items are used as a unique expression of perpetuating extra-ordinary powers by the individual cartoon characters being attached to each commodity. On the other hand, fruits and vegetables fail to compete with the fictitious facade of the marketed cartoon culture.

While international franchises like KFC captivate audiences with their fluffy Chicky as their official mascot, it is interesting to note that our local market has picked on the same trend to boost sales. Candyland introduced their chocolate, ‘Now’, and adopted an energetic advertising campaign. Hilal made use of the same concept in introducing Ding Dong bubble gum.

Agencies very aptly target children as their prime consumers and then use creativity to construct concepts that would lure children into consumption. But why target the innocent, naïve minds of children?  Apparently, advertising agencies take advantage of the assumption that a child possesses the greatest amount of ‘pester power’ in a household.

So parents beware because behind every successful unhealthy product, there is a very animated cartoon character.
Safia Kaleem A Karachi based marketeer who works at Maersk
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


imrulhasan | 13 years ago | Reply i think people get taste and enjoyment by eating it.
Let us not digress | 13 years ago | Reply I think it falls squarely on the parents to deal with such problems. no amount of advertisement and peer pressure can trump good values and upbringing. if parents uphold importance of nutrition, kids would never linger around such junk.
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