Tip #15 Prepare Your Kids for Gladvertising

Jul 21

Teaching your child to withstand peer pressure is in every parent’s mental handbook for raising healthy, balanced kids.  However, what if the newest pressure facing the young generation doesn’t come from another person, but rather, um, a billboard?  Welcome to the future of marketing: gladvertising.

Slated to begin appearing as early as 2012, gladverts are digital outdoor advertisements that use cameras and facial-recognition software (that just sounds creepy) to detect a consumer’s mood.  The consumer, of course, constitutes: me, you, our kids, our grandma and ex-brother-in-law, even that annoying neigbour – basically anyone who moseys across the camera’s “eye”.  Once the gladvert reads the victim’s mood, it will push products and brands that are relevant to that person’s emotional state.  For example, if the gladvert detects a woman walking by in a grumpy mood, it may display chocolate. Suddenly the poor gal (who has been trying to lose her last 10 pounds of post-pregnancy weight) finds herself wolfing down a Kitkat bar (and regretting later, thereby increasing her grumpiness).  But, the chocolate company will have achieved their coveted sale.  Yes – I have a cynical attitude toward this new advertising ploy.

The whole sci-fi inspired move toward turning our every emotion into a “brand” experience is creepy, at best, and downright criminal, at worst.  Shouldn’t a person be allowed to just wallow in his or her emotional conundrum (be it joyful or sorrowful) without having to worry about being exploited by a company seeking profit?  Unfortunately, although the answer to the question is a definitive yes, the near future will see gladvertising pop up in cities across the globe.

Parents are advised to learn about the gladverts cropping up in their own communities and make their kids aware of the impact such advertising will have on them. With commercialism already so prevalent in our children’s lives, this new trend will only add to parents’ efforts to teach kids that buying stuff doesn’t ever resolve emotional issues.  In fact, I’m betting that consumers who buy based solely on emotion rather than common sense will be the ones sobbing most when the credit card bill comes. (But the brands will be cheering!)

I give the same piece of advice almost every time my kids beg for the latest gadget, gizmo, or crappadoodle-doo that they’ve seen:

There’s only one reason that this company wants you to buy this thing… because they want your money. They don’t care if it’s good for you or if it’ll make you feel better. They just want your money.

Yes, I realize that’s over simplifying things.  But I want my kids to grow up knowing that their mom and dad actually care far more about them than any corporate brand.  And, frankly, I hope that our advice will always outshine that of a glossy billboard – no matter how alluring, or underhanded, their methods.

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