Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Advertisements and Parenting: A Little Bit of Help From an Unlikely Source

I am not a big fan of blaming television or video games for kids gone wild. Nor do I expect sports stars to be role models for my children. I don't believe that schools are solely responsible for making sure our children are well-educated. I don't blame advertisers or broadcast companies for airing enticing ads for sugary junk in the middle of what are touted to be educational programs.

What I believe is that parents have a big role to play in the lives of their children. Parents do have the responsibility, and, if they choose to use them, the resources and ability to guide their children in a way that does not let all those extraneous factors have more influence than the parents themselves do.

But I will be the first to say that it sure does not hurt to have some help from the inside. A couple of months ago, Businessweek carried an article about Alex Bogusky, an adversiting mogul whose biggest client was Burger King and who had a change of heart:
By June it was clear Bogusky wasn't just leaving the industry, he was turning on it. While most of his peers were at the annual Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, he was advocating on his blog for a ban on advertising to kids. He named names, citing McDonald's (MCD) and Burger King, still a CP+B client. Then he sent the post by e-mail to Porter in Cannes. Porter has spoken about Bogusky and the piece just once, to Advertising Age: "I told him it was well written and made some great points, but I also said he needs to make a choice because [it's not compatible with the business we're in]. And the next morning he sent me a note saying, 'I resigned like you recommended.' "

In mid-July he interviewed Robyn O'Brien, author of The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick—and What We Can Do About It, and focused on genetically modified soybeans. "God created all these seeds but never got around to monetizing that s—t. God's a bad capitalist. So we said, let us show you how it's done," he said, to the bemusement of his guest. "We have a right to critique a food system created by a corporation....What if things don't turn out well and your kids come to you and ask: 'What did you do to try to stop this?' "