As my son enters the so-called Terrible Twos, I’ve become keenly aware of one thing that makes them so terrible: awareness. After 24 months outside the womb, kids slowly but surely start becoming cognizant of what they have, what they don’t have — and what they want. At this point, too, kids begin more fully processing how the world works — or at least what the world is telling them about how the world works.
Advertisers obviously know all of this. They not only know that kids will go full-on terrible in annoying their parents into buying stuff they realize they want, but also that two-year-olds are already starting to develop their own future preferences. Hence, when my son hears the discrete piano tune and Ed Harris’ soothing voice on the radio and then cheerily shouts “Home Depot,” it is a sign that he is already equating home projects with the local-business-crushing orange Godzilla — just as that Godzilla’s marketing team hopes. Same thing for the Happy Meal, whose child-focused marketing equates junk food with emotive joy and cheap toys — a terrible-yet-irresistible combination for a two-year-old.
From a marketing perspective, the formula is straightforward. Essentially, today’s Mad Men take advantage of the awareness that comes with the Terrible Twos by advertising directly to two-year-olds (or at least, as with the Home Depot, by making their jingles mentally “sticky” for both adults and children). That not only exacerbates the Terrible Twos by manufacturing/inflaming product desires, it also — by design — solidifies kids’ future consumer assumptions.
~ from Chick-Fil-A’s Latest Horror by David Sirota ~
You know, there was a time when I was young that I was interested in going into the field of advertising. Of course, I had a very naive view of it back then. I thought it was all about writing snappy jingles and eye-pleasing graphics. I didn't realize it employed a form of psychological warfare! Once I figured that part out, it no longer looked like an attractive career choice.
The reason why Sirota hones in on Chick-Fil-A is because they sponsor a children's book that promotes the image of the happy family farm -- something the corporate company seeks to stamp out. Like all other major fast food chains, Chick-Fil-A supports huge factory farming techniques.
In a manner of speaking, Chick-Fil-A's approach is Orwellian. They are trying to sell children on a warm and fuzzy image that belies the real life strategy of the firm. It is really nothing more than a sophisticated form of brainwashing and almost every major corporation utilizes the same blueprint.
No wonder people are so screwed up. It is hard to stay sane when the marketplace AND government say that up is down, forward is backward and bad is really, really good.