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Who Is Letting Their Kids Buy Groceries and Fast-Food Meals?
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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How many times have you seen a child, under the age of 12, mosey on down the junk food aisle at your local grocery store without adult supervision, dump the worst food possible in the cart, and pay for it? How many times have you seen a child waltz in to a McDonald's or a Burger King — again, under the age of 12 — order a full meal and walk away, all by themselves?

What child under the age of 12 are you aware of that demands such independence as determining their own diet, including when and where they eat, and the quantity of which they eat it? 

If most of those answers are in the negative, then why are these advertisers being hounded are allegedly advertising straight to kids, when in most cases they are not the customer? The kids are undoubtedly the consumer, but the parent or guardian is more than likely the gatekeeper to the purse strings.

report came out recently about how certain advertisers may still be advertising to children. It believes that the methods the advertisers are using go against legally drawn guidelines that they themselves help create. Whether that is true or not, is not very important to us. We want to know why this is such a big deal.

And true, we are in a different position. We are of the Generation Y cohort, and we lack the presence of children in our home. So us saying "just tell the kids no" doesn't come with a morning of getting them ready for school, getting them to practice or other activities, helping with homework, and getting them something to eat, while taking care of your own matters. We do not carry such a load, yet. 

However, we do realize that if a child is getting the majority of their nutritional information from advertising, there is room for adjustment. 

Remember when Charles Barkley famously retorted that he is "not a role model" when questioned about his off-the-court antics? Why can't that be the same for advertising? Yes, advertising's goal is to inform or persuade a certain audience; but if that main audience is children, reason suggests that there are more sources that the child can use in order to determine that the information they saw was correct. Not filling that void is not the fault of advertising, nor the advertisers in charge. Do they have the option to limit their message? Absolutely. But how dare we charge advertisers to adopt a message that is supposed to be coming from a closer, more nuturing source? It's okay for AdLand to be a "Nanny State" when it comes to advertising to children, but goodness forbid there's an ad about things we like to do.

We're better than this.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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