Thursday, February 24th, 2011
How powerful is it really?
My daughter has started a new school, and along with other pressures comes the need to be seen as ‘a good mum’.
Last Friday she announced she needed a blue nose. A request like this usually implies an entire costume is required at breakneck speed for an assembly or charity day.
“What do you need it for? I’m not sure I have a blue eyeliner…”
“Not a blue nose Mummy! A Blue Nose! It’s an animal with a blue nose – everyone in my class has one, but Emily says if you don’t want to, she will ask her mum to get me one.”
Okaaay. I look slyly at Lily. Does she realise she has just performed the most perfect piece of pester power? She smiles sweetly, “It’s true – she says she won’t mind!”
Five minutes later we’re at the toyshop. Bluenoses are ugly, unimaginative ‘plush’ creatures with dead eyes. I know it, she knows it. She keeps glancing furtively at the Sylvanian Family section. She’s wanted a Dalmatian baby for a while now….
I suggest a Bluenose key ring – visible the whole time on her bag but only £1.99. She accepts and I then buy her the Dalmatian baby anyway simply because she didn’t ask for it – bizarrely the second most perfect piece of pester power.
The reason I seem so weak is because I actually don’t have a problem with school crazes – they’re part of school life, and more often than not, they occur organically rather than are brand driven. I’ve asked around – the passion for Bluenoses isn’t replicated at any other schools around here – nor was the obsession with Mighty Beanz last year in my son’s class. Yes, they are designed as kid’s collectibles, but I think it just takes a couple of kids to kick-start it – and the herd follows.
But what happens to my point of view when a pester is clearly brand driven – usually through advertising or a website? I feel my shackles rising. Nothing annoys me more than a request for an obscure item that I must then go and research – only to find more stuff aimed at seducing kids.
So how am I feeling about the brand now?
What emotions am I attaching to it?
Ultimately, I still hold the purse strings, and nine times out of ten I will say no on principle. Yes, I know I’m tough, but I’m sure those parents who give in do so under duress rather than through warm feelings towards the brand.
By all means talk to the kids – but talk to the parents too. At 1000heads we go further than that. We will not target kids under 16 at all. We speak to parents, communities and often, schools too – in a language which seeks to inform, stresses the benefits and ultimately results in a positive attitude towards the brand. Instead of a one-way pester, you get a two-way conversation.
It’s an ethical decision – but a smart one too.