Children's Responses to Gender-Role Stereotyped Advertisements

Aysen Bakir
Illinois State University

Jeffrey G. Blodgett
North Carolina A&T State University

Gregory M. Rose
University of Washington, Tacoma

Young children constitute a substantial market segment. It has been estimated that children account for more than $30 billion in direct purchases (Schor, 2004) and indirectly influence more than $600 billion of U.S. household spending - from snack foods to automobiles (Piperato, 2005). Due to the increasing involvement of children in family decision making, spending on children's advertising has risen to over $15 billion a year (Piperato, 2005). Indeed, a myriad of companies - such as Toys “R” Us, Kraft, and Kellogg's - have been investing significant sums of money on advertisements and promotions targeting children (Thompson, 2005). LA Gear, for example, was allocating approximately 95 percent of its advertising budget to children's media, and Burger King has been spending over $100 million per year on a series of promotions tied to new movies (e.g., Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Toy Story, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars) that are aimed primarily at children (Thompson, 2003). The tremendous growth in the children's market has been accompanied by an expansion in the number and type of children's media outlets. Companies can now advertise their products via numerous children's television networks (e.g., Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, Cartoon Network, National Geographic Kids, FOX Kids) and a plethora of traditional and online magazines for kids of different ages (e.g., Sports Illustrated for Kids, Highlights For Kids, American Girl, KidsWorld, Ranger Rick, U.S. Kids, Dogs for Kids, etc.). Marketers have certainly been taking advantage of these children's media; for example, Nickelodeon forecasted advertising revenues of approximately $935 million in 2005 (Klaassen, 2005). These facts and figures clearly indicate that children's advertising is a topic worthy of additional research.