Janese Tyree Instructor Fielding English 96 19 March 2009 Unlucky “Kid Kustomers” Television is the most important medium for children’s advertisements. The effects of TV have long been a subject of controversy. In the essay, “Kid Kustomers,” Eric Schlosser describes how major ad agencies now have children’s divisions that focus directly on marketing to kids.
The newest Lucky Charms cereal television commercial, “Lost In Time,” utilizes cartoon characters, an adventurous plot, and whimsical cereal shapes which work in conjunction not only to captivate the attention of their young audience, but also to infuse the Lucky Charms brand into children’s subconscious by using attractive symbols which can result in loyal customers. Lucky Charms commercials, aimed at gaining a young clientele, include adventurous plots starring a lovable cartoon mascot.
According to Schlosser, “[s]tudies suggest that until the age of six, roughly eighty percent of children’s dreams are about animals, [r]ounded soft creatures like” “Lucky the Leprechaun. ” As a wee, sprightly leprechaun, dressed in classic garb, an emerald green frock coat, a rounded hat with a protruding four-leaf clover, green knickers, and a pair of buckled shoes, Lucky’s delightful appearance serves as bait to instantly seduce his young viewers.
Cleverly enough, Lucky Charms cereal replicates the traditional leprechaun scenario of Irish folklore, in which, if captured, the leprechaun would surrender his stash of hidden gold to those seeking his treasure; however, in the case Lucky Charms, the gold has been swapped with cereal. The 2009 “Lost In Time” animated commercial follows suit as a mob of hungry kid...
s pursue and invariably catch Lucky, who has to suffer the torment of seeing his prized creations being gobbled up, a fact that prompts him to utter his famous atch phrase in a highly exaggerated Irish accent, “They’re always after me Lucky Charms! ” The commercial ends with Lucky singing the cereals catch slogan: “Frosted Lucky Charms, they’re magically delicious! ” The advertising technique employed by Lucky Charms is first to use the leprechaun mascot and his accompanying props to have an instant visual appeal to children and then to further engage their young audiences by using a fantasy cartoon plot involving the pursuit of Lucky’s magical cereal.
Once the kid customer has been lured in by the commercials enchanting imagery and fast moving plot, Lucky Charms builds on its storyline by introducing various iconic cereal shapes, each of which bestow supernatural powers to those who eat them, a marketing technique meant to engage children’s creativity and incorporate Lucky Charms into the children’s imaginary play. The main attraction to Lucky Charms for the last forty years has always been the marshmallows or brightly colored “marbits,” which Lucky magically creates from ordinary, dull, white marshmallows.
The featured marbit in the “Lost In Time” commercial episode, is Lucky’s brand new creation: the hourglass charm which gives the power to stop, speed up, or reverse time. In this particular episode, Lucky is able temporarily to avoid his pursuers by yelling “marshmallow power! ” and subsequently ingesting the hourglass charm, which transports him to an imaginary prehistoric time of dinosaurs and cavemen. “Kid Kustomers” discusses how ‘[advertisers] study
the fantasy lives of children [to] apply the findings in advertisements and product designs. As time-travel is a common childhood fantasy, it is no wonder that Lucky Charms added the hourglass icon to their collection of charms. Another popular marbit is the heart-shaped marshmallow, which awards the power to bring things to life, giving a sense of immortality; a customary superhuman trait commonly incorporated in children’s hero and villain play scenarios. The shooting star marshmallow gives the power to fly, perhaps the most common childhood fantasy, and similarly, the balloon, which is universally recognized as a symbol of imagination, is the marbit that gives kids the power to float.
Blue moon marshmallows award the power of invisibility, frequently used by Lucky’s pursuers to sneak up on him and snatch his coveted cereal, but one can imagine, on a daily basis, all of the creative games in which children fanaticize about being invisible. Other marbits include the rainbow charm, which plays a magical, otherworldly part in the cereal, giving the power to instantaneously travel from place to place; the horseshoe charm, giving the power of speed; and of course, the clover charm, which brings good luck.
The marbits give reason to why children naturally gravitate to Lucky Charms commercials: these advertisements are visual representations of dreamlike scenarios, which children imagine, in their everyday lives. By intertwining its mascot and icons into creative play, the single most important developmental activity for young children, Lucky Charms is not only able to breed loyal customers, but may also influence the context by which children define their morals and surroundings.
Pertaining to children, the act of playing is commonly referred to as their “job,” for it is the means by which they learn to make sense of the world around them; developing physical coordination, emotional maturity, the social skills to interact with other children, and the self-confidence to try new experiences and explore new environments. Considering the developmental significance of imaginary play and how readily the Lucky Charms product meshes with children’s creativity, one must take into account the symbolism behind the Lucky Charms cereal shapes.
Unlike the colorful, ultra-sweet marshmallow marbits and the supernatural powers that accompany them, the whole grain oat cereal pieces are ordinary and bland, offering no pleasurable powers, However, they do come in a unique assortment of shapes: a lowercase Greek alpha, a three-leafed clover, a tree, a fish, and a cross. Advertised as the “wholesome goodness” component of Lucky Charms cereal, one can’t help but to notice the implied religious significance of the whole grain symbols. The alpha shape can represent a symbol of early Christians, while the clover is a symbol of St.
Patrick, the three leafs representing the father, the son, and the holy ghost; the fish shape is a universal symbol of Jesus Christ; the tree shape resembles a Christmas tree; and the cross, which is of course the most common symbol of Christianity. By incorporating Christian symbolism into their cereal, a product, which has a profound influence on its young admirers, is Lucky Charms urging their religious morals upon children? According to Schlosser, children watch
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