How To Sell Products And Avoid Kids At The Same Time

The Kaiser Family Foundation wants TV commercials to better target their specific audience --- all to keep kids from getting the wrong message. 

In a perfect world of micro-targeted niche networks, all this would make sense.

Kaiser recently released a study finding that 65% of parents closely monitor their kids' media consumption -- and virtually the same numbers of parents still worry kids are seeing too much advertising.

A Kaiser official suggests, for example, no lewd ads during "American Idol" -- which Kaiser seems to feel is a kids' show.

Well, "Idol" isn't a kid's show -- it's a show for everybody. All demographic groups watch "Idol," the highest-rated overall network TV show. Look at the numbers.

Unless a show is on a narrowly-targeted network, such as Nickelodeon or MTV, most on broadcast are going to have a variety of commercials. That's why they still call it broadcasting. Demographics groups -- 18-49, 12-24, 25-54 -- still cover a sizable range of ages.

 A commercial watchdog groups now says that the spirits maker Jack Daniels shouldn't sponsor the upcoming AMC series, "Mad Men," a show about the advertising business in the 1960s, in which men smoke and drink a lot, because it violates the industry's self-regulating tenets. The bigger question is -- who will be watching that show?

What happens when a beer commercial runs during NFL, NHL, or Major League Baseball telecasts? Many kids under 18 watch these sporting events -- as well as adults 60 years old. Does that mean beer and other alcohol products can't be advertised on these shows?

You can go two ways: prevent those who are under 18 from watching sporting events, or tell marketers of legal products targeted to older viewers that their commercials - and products -- are now illegal.

Take a look at "Oprah Winfrey" ratings, and you'll see -- though it's a tiny number -- that some 6- to 11-year-olds are watching. Should they be watching? Probably not.  Should those kids be the targets of home air freshener or feminine hygiene commercials? Probably not.

But if kids are watching, parents should be sitting right next to them explaining the facts of life: "Yes, that man jumping on Oprah's couch is a big movie star who gets $20 million a movie. But you shouldn't do that in our house -- not unless you've just signed with William Morris."

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