Washington Post: We Interrupt This Program . . . Advertisers Want Your Attention — And Your Money

June 12, 2007 at 3:09 am


Published: Tuesday, June 12, 2007; Page C12

By Ellen Edwards

Do you think your favorite television show is interrupted by a lot of advertising?
You are so right.

Advertising pays the bills to make and air most television shows. These shows can cost a lot, which means you get bombarded with ads.

A recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 8- to 12-year-olds see about 30,155 TV ads every year! That’s about 230 hours of advertising.

You see about 21 ads for food each day. That’s 7,600 food ads a year — taking up nearly 51 hours. Does that make you hungry for Cheetos and Coke, Burger King and Skittles — or for carrots and apples? You can guess that most ads are for the less healthy stuff. (See graph below.)

To learn more about children’s advertising, KidsPost spoke with Gary Rudman, a California market reseacher with GTR Consulting who specializes in kids and teens. Rudman, who has worked with Nickelodeon and Kraft Foods, explained how ads are tested to see if they work — usually that means getting you to buy the product.

The creation of a TV ad often begins with the idea and one picture that explains it, called a key frame. There also is a script.

The advertiser often wants to test the idea with focus groups in different parts of the country. “We might do New YorkChicagoLos AngelesHoustonDallas, Baltimore,” says Rudman. (But not Washington. Companies think Washington has too many people in politics and government, and doesn’t reflect the rest of the country.)

In each city, a local company finds kids whose parents agree to let them be in a focus group. The kids get paid, usually $50 to $100 for 1 1/2 hours of their time.

screener asks questions to make sure the kids qualify for the group. For example, says Rudman, kids are “not used for a McDonald’s focus group if they hate McDonald’s or if their brother got sick there.”

Rudman writes a discussion guide to help the group stay on the topic. “It has the type of questions we want to focus on,” he says.

Kids might be shown the finished ad or one that’s still being worked on. When the focus groups have finished, their comments are sent to the company whose product is featured in the ad. The company then decides whether the ad worked — will it interrupt your television viewing and get you (or your parents) running off to the store? If not, the ad could be sent to the trash heap.


Entry filed under: Press.

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