Had a fun Memorial Day weekend with my kids and Dad in town, mostly focused around the Boulder Creek Festival, a huge outdoors art, food and activity event held annually in Boulder, Colorado. I figure it’s a highlight of living in Boulder, actually, being able to go to the Festival without a long drive and knowing the secret parking spots so you can actually get there without hours of parking hassle.
My kids love it too, from the children’s activities (bungie trampolines, bouncy houses, mock sword fighting from the medieval society) to the many booths set up from companies promoting their child-friendly or parent-friendly products or services. Indeed, every year we come home with bags of tchotchkas, the miscellaneous pencils, stickers and samples that are quite exciting for kids to receive.
This year, my two youngest and I stopped at a new booth from a company called Zisboombah.com. The general theme is teaching kids about nutrition and healthy eating choices, something I support wholeheartedly and something that my kids and I discuss as we make food decisions.
But their actual approach to marketing wasn’t revealed until later when I read through one of their promotional brochures and was rather troubled by how they’re selling the concept…
First off, there’s the whole idea of using sloppily drawn ants as a visual metaphor for children and as their mascots. Not sure that’s how I want a company thinking of my kids, feels a bit too group-think for me (polite way of saying “kinda commie” without me sounding like I’m from the 50s, I suppose) and, really? Little bugs that will eat anything they can find, that’s a good metaphor for children?
Much more upsetting, though, was their pamphlet, which reads:
“Hey Kids! Are you tired of eating the same old things? Sick of having your meal-time decisions made for you? Go to ZisBoomBah.com and create your own meals!”
The sentence that really bothers me is “sick of having your meal-time decisions made for you?” which I read as saying, more or less, “are you disempowered by your stupid parents?” Sounds more like an incentive for collective bargaining or going on strike than a way to encourage kids to get more involved in their dietary decisions.
In fact, it’s astonishing that they have this anti-parent message (I mean, really, are any of the people on this marketing team actually parents and would they really be comfortable with their kids saying “I’m sick of you making my mealtime decisions, Dad!”?) and don’t follow it up with something like “get involved, help your parents out, and learn to cook for the whole family at ZisBoomBah.com” or similar.
See what I mean? It’s all about the individual, it’s all about “create your own meals”. Yeah, that’d go over big in my household when I say “I’m cooking burgers for dinner. What veggies do you want with it?” and my son says “I’m sick of your food, Dad, I’m making myself a pizza”.
Imagine instead “Hey kids! Become a food secret agent and cook meals for your whole family! Why? Because when you’re making the meal, you get to pick what you cook!” See what I mean?
Moral of the story: If you’re going to market to kids, keep in mind that you’re also marketing to their parents and not all of us want our children to be told that it’s fine if they’re sick of family meals and don’t need to participate in family meal planning.
What do you think? Am I being hyper-sensitive or is a marketing pitch that encourages kids to break off from the family and do their own personal meal planning rather counter-productive for creating a healthy, happy family?