Techniques Used to Sell a Toy in a Commercial Term Paper

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Advertising Ad Analysis: Undifferentiated and Intense Persuasion in Children's Advertising

But all of the other kids are getting one!" Every year, around Christmas time, normally sensible parents will devote themselves to spending hours in the toy stores, in malls, or online, to find a must-have toy for their child. The parents may defend their actions by stating that the toy is educational, encourages the child's creativity, or simply that one is only a child once. Their real collective motivation for engaging in such behavior is often referred to by marketers and adults alike as the "nag factor," or the fact that children often influence the purchasing decisions in a household.

A child's desire can be so powerful, parents find it almost impossible to resist, especially when dealing with advertising for children's products like toys. "The path to purchase is less direct than for adult products," than for children's products, notes Richard Briesch, Eileen Bridges of Kent State, and Chi Kin (Bennett) Yim of The University of Hong Kong. Their study entitled "Advertising Decisions and Children's Product Categories" found that the nag factor is effective and frequent brand switching is common for households with children, in comparison to a control group of households without children.Get full Download Microsoft Word File access
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Term Paper on Techniques Used to Sell a Toy in a Commercial Assignment

The study concluded: "advertising directed at adults, for adult products, tends to aim at building brand loyalty, focusing on product characteristics that are perceived to be of long-term value. On the other hand, children's products must be updated frequently, reflecting the latest theme or character in order to grab attention. Advertising aimed at children does not focus on brand loyalty, but on the new and exciting features and tie-ins that are available."(Briesch, Bridges, & Kim, 2004) This study did not focus on children's products, but on all products in the household in general, noting that even in terms of decisions like eating out, buying breakfast cereals and toothpaste, and other decisions that affect the health habits of the entire household, children have a powerful influence. This influence is magnified, however, with products that are exclusively used by the child, perhaps because the parental will is less stalwart when dealing with products that are child-exclusive.

The analysis of Briesch, Bridges, and Kim (2004) proves highly instructive when examining the recent campaign for the toy-manufacturing brand Lego. Lego has been promoting a robotic spider as part of its Exo-Force line of toys. Lego is a well-known toy company, with a reputation for producing high quality products demanding constructive ability upon the part of children. On the parent's section of the website, Lego proclaims: "Children's natural curiosity forms the foundation of every Lego product. We foster creative development by encouraging children both to role-play and to build anything they can possibly -- and impossibly -- imagine! ("Parents," 2006, Official Lego Website) Lego toys do not merely sit on the shelf and collect dust, the website states. Using Legos requires creative intellectual engagement on the part of the child, and thus the message of this section of the website proclaims that parents should feel good about buying Lego products for their children.

However, the recent incarnation of Lego product commands children's rather than parental attention with the tie-ins with the downloadable Internet movies and comics on the site, and its popular Japanese mangia advertising style. The television commercial for the most recent installment of the Exo-Force line begins with laying out the latest installment in the Exo-Force drama, beginning with the ominous voice-over words: "Beware the evil robot-spider, striking venom!" (As opposed to a friendly, cuddly robotic spider, presumably.)

Rather than showing children playing with the Lego toys, constructing the spiders, and using their imagination to give them different voices or different personality characteristics (an image that might attract a parent) the television advertisement shows a cartoon, animated spider in the style of the Exo-Force Japanese mangia motif, attacking a fortress which the good Exo-Forces are suppose to protect. The commercial ends briefly with a depiction of the real toy.

The salience of the advertisement is created by the detailed, highly kinesthetic illustration of the cartoon characters. The child's engagement with the constructed plot line, rather than with the plastic toy itself creates the visual attraction and interest of the ad. In print advertising, "salience is created through relative choices in color, size, sharpness and placement." (Sells & Gonzalez, 1996) Here, the dark colors of the supposedly evil creature and the swirling cartoon motions of the tale create the salience, or attraction and desirability of watching the drama, qualities which are then transferred to the toy at the end of the advertisement.

The story of the Exo-Force is also used to sell multiple toys at a time. If the child purchases several toys, the ad tells him or her that he can use one of the other created machines "to fly and defeat the evil robot spider." (Of course, only Exo-Force toys can accomplish this, not toys from other product lines.) Still, it might be argued that these ads, however melodramatic, do enforce some of Lego's core values, values that make it popular with patents as well as adults. For example, during the advertisement, the machine is shown annihilating a bridge where the evil robot spider is perched, and as the spider falls into an abyss of fog, which it then starts to claw its way out, the announcers says that "the fate of humanity is in your hands: "You decide."

In other words, the act of creative play with Legos engages the imagination of the child. If the child has the toy, the child becomes empowered with the ability to alter the script of the toy's life and the entire world of the Exo-Force. This is an effective selling technique from the parent's point-of-view, as it is likely to make the parent feel less guilty about purchasing a plastic toy of no redeeming educational value. It makes the child feel as if he or she is empowered during his or her play, or even as if the world's fate does hang in the balance, as the child contemplates whether he or she should let the spider die or be brought back to life.

Regardless, the ad is persuasive on two levels, as the child needs more than one toy to engage in the story of the world created in the advertisement. The nag factor is thus increased twofold, even while it could be argued that by allowing the child to ask the question, does the spider die, he or she is more intellectually engaged than simply being encouraged to possess the toy. The child participates in the comic, or drama of the tale, but it is a drama that is created by Lego and serves to generate the need to buy more products. Furthermore, the evolving storyline of the advertisements generates greater novelty and interest, key factors in encouraging children to buy products, even more so than adults who tend to be more brand-loyal, than novelty seeking, a trend that increases with consumer age.

The Lego ads, though, it could be argued, through the use of the cartoon-to real world format and secondly through the empowering language of 'you decide' allow Lego to 'cover its bases,' by generating excitement and the nag factor in children, but still promoting its reputable brand that encourages children to create with blocks, a factor reinforced in the end of the advertisement, which returns the world of the Exo-Forces to 'real life.' The real life interpolation enables the children and the parents to identify the toys in the toy store as well.

Another persuasive factor that makes the ad effective is its 'busyness' or heavy use of action, which makes it difficult, at first, to figure out that it is an ad and not simply a cartoon. If a child saw this ad while watching cartoons, the confusion of focus and intent would no doubt be magnified. Analysis of consumer behavior amongst salespeople noted: "When an ulterior persuasion motive is highly accessible, both cognitively busy targets and unbusy observers use persuasion knowledge to evaluate the salesperson. When an ulterior motive is less accessible, cognitively busy targets are less likely to use persuasion knowledge, evaluating the salesperson as more sincere than are cognitively unbusy observers." (Campbell & Kirmani, 2000, p.69) The targeted use of persuasion techniques such as saliency, for example, or appeals to brand recognition, can be deliberately filtered and ignored when the consumer is focused, but when attention is diverted to, for example, following the story of the ad, the consumer is actually more rather than less open to influence because he or she is likely to be less critical and use his or her intellect to evaluate the motivation of the salesperson.

The difficulty of gaining focused attention from children, and children's difficulty in separating reality from fiction is confirmed, not only in anecdotal evidence from parents and teachers (although there is certainly a great deal of this!) but also in a recent study commissioned by the American Psychology Association. "The six-member… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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Techniques Used to Sell a Toy in a Commercial.  (2006, December 6).  Retrieved November 27, 2020, from

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"Techniques Used to Sell a Toy in a Commercial."  December 6, 2006.  Accessed November 27, 2020.