This timely and innovative book provides a detailed history of marketing to children, revealing the strategies that shape the design of toys and have a powerful impact on the way children play. Stephen Kline looks at the history and development of children's play culture and toys from the teddy bear and Lego to the Barbie doll, Care Bears and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He profiles the rise of children's mass media - book, comics, film and television - and that of the speciality stores such as Toys 'R' Us, revealing how the opportunity to reach large audiences of children through television was a pivotal point in developing new approaches to advertising. Contemporary youngsters, he shows, are catapulted into a fantastic and chaotic time-space continuum of action toys thanks to the merchandisers' interest in animated television. Kline looks at the imagery and appeal of the toy commercials and at how they provide a host of stereotyped figures around which children can organize their imaginative experience.
He shows how the deregulation of advertising in the United States in the 1980s has led directly to the development of the new marketing strategies which use television series to saturate the market with promotional 'character toys'. Finally, in a powerful re-examination of the debates about the cultural effects of television, Out of the Garden asks whether we should allow our children's play culture to be primarily defined and created my marketing strategists, pointing to the unintended consequences of a situation in which images of real children have all but been eliminated from narratives about the young. "By graduation from high school the average child will have spent over 20,000 hours watching television and only 11,000 in the classroom. A child will be exposed each year to 18,000 - 21,000 commercial messages, heavy viewing pre-schoolers may spend up to one third of their waking days in front of the tube ...the act of family viewing, if it occurs at all, remains a passive ritual ...One discouraging US study estimated that the average parent spends only thirty seconds a day in meaningful conversation with the child."
Publisher: Verso Books
Number of pages: 428
Weight: 597 g
Dimensions: 234 x 156 x 22 mm
"A highly disturbing analysis of children's play ever since toys became big business ... An insight into the role of marketing and television that no parent can afford to ignore."--The Times
"An interesting and provocative book. It alerts and sensitises one to to things which should have been obvious but weren't--like the increasingly sinister co-ordination between media products and the toy industry."--Observer
"An invaluable analysis of child culture's long development."--Voice Literary Supplement