According to Mediamark Research's new "American Kids Study," kids respond to funny characters and silly humor, but not to ads that are sarcastic or make fun of things. This applies to all kinds of marketing, including print, TV, radio and Internet. The study of 5,300 kids ages 6 to 11 found 75% want advertising to have "funny things like a funny animal or character," and 44% want "silly humor."
Youth marketing experts say that when humor works, it's great. "People respond in kind to what their life is about, and kids are all about having fun," said Daniel Acuff, president and founder of Youth Marketing Systems Consulting in Arcadia, Calif. "They are more social and their milieu is entertainment, and they're more likely to remember something that is entertaining rather than explanatory. Kids will identify more strongly with humor than adults, because adults are all about getting through the day."
Humor also can add to a marketing campaign's pass-along effect with kids, because they tend to share really funny things with other kids. It's a market worth tapping: The buying power of 3- to 11-year-olds totaled 18.3 billion in 2005, according to Packaged Facts.
But using humor in advertising is an art and science that many marketers miss. Often, ads are so funny that the product is overlooked, or they fail to move the customer to buy the brand.
The Mediamark report found that after humor, the thing kids want most to see in advertising is other kids--54% of the surveyed kids said they liked seeing kids their age, while only 26% said they want to see "famous people I like."
And nearly half of the kids said music plays an important role in grabbing their attention.
What they don't want: sarcasm that makes fun of things and information about a new product.
Kids are not big multitaskers when it comes to their TV time. Twenty-one percent say they usually play video/computer games or talk on the phone while watching TV; 10.6% listen to the radio; 18.2% read books or comics; 10.1% go online and 5% work on the computer. Boys are more likely to say they play video/computer games while watching TV, while girls are more likely to say they talk on the phone.
Eating is something they all do--a lot of. The study found that 57.5% of kids eat while watching TV.