My daughter is only 3, but she already counts Ronald McDonald, Barney and the Teletubbies among her closest friends. And she's not alone in her seemingly precocious knowledge of brands and corporate mascots.
Companies direct increasing amounts of marketing toward children of ever-younger ages, says David Walsh, president of the National Institute on Media and the Family and author of Selling Out America's Children (Fairview Press, 1995). They seem intent on turning kids into mini-consumers before they can talk.
"There's a race on to establish brand loyalty," Walsh says. "When I wrote my book five years ago, companies were trying to establish brand loyalty by age 3. Now they're trying to do it by 2 or even 1-1/2."
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