Eric Closer, the author of Fast Food Nation, explores the various tactics used by the industry in order to achieve global recognition, target children, and why it is more productive to reach children than to target other age groups. One method used to achieve global recognition was to apply the concept of synergy. Synergy can be defined as the cooperation between two or more organizations to produce results greater than the sum of their separate effects. In simplistic terms, two or more companies combine forces in order to benefit themselves more than they could have done individually.
Two companies who have effectively utilized this concept are the Walt Disney company and the McDonald corporation. They were able to propose marketing deals, provide giveaways, and swap executives amongst their companies. The cross promotion strengthened ties between Hollywood and the fast food Industry. Allowing the McDonald corporation to gain global recognition. Studies show that children have an easier time identifying characters such as Ronald McDonald than major political figures such as the president of the United States, Half of Australian nine and ten year olds thought that Ronald McDonald was an authority on what they should eat.
In Beijing, all of the primary school children recognized Ronald McDonald, saying that he 'understood heir hearts'. Germany has more than one thousand McDonald's, many popping up inside of Wall-Marts, because they know lots of children get lugged to Wall-Mart every day. (Closer 231). The McDonald corporation had accomplished its goals to reach 'global realization', and this achievement paved the way to pursue early targeting. Children became the target group within advertisement, "the decade of the child consumer" (Closer 43).
In order to exploit children effectively, focus groups were created solely for the purpose of finding effecting means of targeting ads towards children and collecting demographic information. 89% requested personal information from kids" through the internet and most children supplied it without parental consent (Closer 45). Soon, products such as Coca- Cola and Dry. Pepper were marketed to schools and fast food advertisements were littered throughout the education system.
Advertisements were placed on school buses, in school newspapers, written on stadium banners, and announcements were made over the stadium's public-address system during games (Closer 51). Children were not only faced with these ads during their time period at school, but at home too. The media played a huge role In promoting fast food. Television commercials, the internet, and the radio were employed to "get kids to nag their parents and nag them well" (Closer 43). The adults set out to prey on children's immaturity and to companies became recognizable household trademarks.
Ronald McDonald, Mackey Mouse, and McDonald's renowned golden arches are a few of the most identifiable symbols today. Companies believed that by propagandist children at an early age, they would influence the children to remain loyal customers to their company. This leads to ask why marketing to children is the most worthwhile tactic. Foremost, children are impressionable. According to Consumer Reports magazine, young children have difficulty distinguishing between advertising and reality in ads, and ads can distort their view of the world. Children are still establishing their tastes and habits", making them ideal customers because they have many years of purchasing ahead of them (Closer 54). "America's fast food culture has become indistinguishable from the popular culture of its children" (Closer 48). The coalition of the fast food and entertainment industry allowed fast food companies to racket toys based on current trends in entertainment. "The key to attracting kids is toys, toys, toys" (Closer 47). In return, the entertainment industry promoted their current trend.
Children's identities should not be defined by their consumer habits. Yet, that is the main way their are portrayed in the media-- as consumers. Children were also described as "surrogate salesmen" (Closer 43). Closer explains that children need to persuade others in order to get what they want which again, gets kids to "nag their parents and nag them well" (Closer 43). As an incentive to get hillier to want to eat at their restaurants, the McDonald corporation created flatlands in their establishments based off of Disney's theme park, Disorderly. Flatlands bring in children, who bring in parents, who bring in money' (Closer 47). Since children need to be accompanied in order for them to get what they want, more customers, such as parents and siblings of the child, are brought into the company as well, thereby benefiting the company. Closer argues that the fast food industry marketing tactics aim to achieve global recognition, victimize children, and explains the importance behind targeting hillier.
He portrays children as naive individuals who are drawn into fast food through the fast food industry strategic efforts, and in most cases, they are. Children are bribed with placeless, toys, cartoons, movies, and videos, and are reached through contests, sweepstakes, games, clubs, and the media. Closer questions the ethic and moral values of the advertisers in the fast food industry for feeding off of the children's naivety. However, children, susceptible to the world of advertisement around them, continuously fall prey to the marketing industry.