Muge YURTSEVER KILICGUN*
PhD, University of Erzincan, Faculty of Education, Department of Preschool Education, Erzincan, Turkey.
Problem Statement: When children watch television, they are exposed to commercial advertisements whose general purpose is to make a positive impression on viewers about a commodity or service in order to drive the sales of that commodity or service. Due to their voiced and moving images, their setup and characters, and their being short and recurrent, television commercials attract the attention of children, who are influenced by ads for both products targeting them and products that concern family consumption. As such, television commercials can influence children’s purchasing behaviors, which thereby makes children a strong target group of consumers that should be listened to, informed, and persuaded with respect to such behaviors. For that reason, the characteristics of television commercials that children prefer to watch have become important.
Purpose of the Study: In this study, I aimed to investigate the expression, message, character, and sector-related details of the commercials watched by children according to their age and gender.
Method: Following a survey-based research model, I used individual interviews and television advertising images during data collection with a sample of 339 children. I examined the characteristics of advertisements according to their type of expression, message type, characters used, and sector of the product or service advertised, as well as examined descriptive data in terms of frequency and percentage. I also analyzed the properties of the differences between children’s age and gender with chisquare analysis.
Findings: In response to 74 different television commercials, children revealed significant differences by age and gender in terms of the type of expression, message type, and product or service sector of the commercials that they liked. Although no significant difference emerged between the children’s gender and the types of characters in the commercials that they liked, a significant difference did emerge between their age and the types of characters in those commercials.
Conclusion and Recommendations: The results show that features of television commercials favored by children aged 3–6 years can have different characteristics according to the children’s age and gender. By extension, the results are important to advertisers as well as parents and educators, and longitudinal follow-up studies are possible that examine the effect of different variables of children and their families. In that way, researchers can investigate whether and, if so, then how the characteristics of commercials favored by children affect their future consumption preferences.
Keywords: Childhood, Advertising Preferences, Properties of Television Commercials, Age and Gender.