Having worked as a magazine journalist/copywriter/social media manager/web editor sort for the last ten years – that’s my CV in a nutshell, in case you’re interested – I’m no stranger to the importance of brand identity. The alarming thing is that Xander – who only recently turned three – is just as good when it comes to recognising which company products hail from.
Kids really are advertising people’s dreams aren’t they? We can’t go anywhere these days without him pointing out logos or packaging designs. For example, we were on a train a couple of weeks ago when his eye was caught by a propaganda message about how mind-blowingly awesome the operator in question is.
“Look, Daddy! Twitter!” he bellowed. Yes, the specific bit he’d spotted was the tiny bird logo they’d done their best to hide, lest people like me berate them for their callous indifference to customer service.
Last week, we were picking up a few odds and ends at our local convenience shop. “Barry Scott’s an idiot!” he exclaimed. I thought for a moment that he was simply being naughty but no… he was right on both counts as he’d spotted the side of a bottle of Cillit Bang that had been turned round on a shelf.
Last night when I got home from work, he informed me that I can get a wow a day at wowcher.co.uk. Noted!
Should we be worried that our children are so attuned to advertising? I remember my parents being concerned at the number of adverts my sister and I were exposed to – indeed, we were encouraged not to watch ITV for that reason – but things have changed so much since then.
Instead of four TV channels, we now have hundreds and the accessibility of other media has increased dramatically too. It’s not lost on me that I’ve probably not helped by increasing the number of brand-based blog posts I write – that’s being a dad blogger near Father’s Day for you!
Is it simply down to their sponge-like ability to absorb information or are they being brainwashed? Xander is certainly hard wired to want anything with any cartoon character on it. At the moment, he’s on a one-toddler crusade to acquire anything with Wanda and the Alien on it – whether it actually exists or not. No slight on that particular cartoon, of course, he’s applying a learned behaviour to it.
I don’t think I’m going to win this one, so it’s more of a case of if you can’t beat them, join them. One of the many brands that Xander points out regularly is the Tottenham Hotspur badge. I’m going to have to turn this to my advantage by wearing my Spurs shirts more often and hope that it indoctrinates him into supporting them too.
At least that way I’ll be teaching him an important life lesson – namely that it’s the taking part that counts…