Remember Popeye spruiking the virtues of spinach just before bashing the crap of arch-nemesis Bluto in cartoons when you were a kid? Well, a new US study has shown just how easy it is to sell stuff to kids – be it burgers or spinach – with the simple use of some cartoon characters and a catchy tune.
The study, by a group called the Social Science Research Network, showed that when salad bars in US school cafeterias were covered with stickers of vegetable cartoon characters and TVs played nearby with those same characters, there was a staggering 239 per cent uplift in students making healthy eating choices.
The research follows on from a UK study published on B&T on Tuesday that found TV junk food advertising was so appealing to kids (primarily due to the characters and catchy jingles) some respondents said they wanted to “lick the screen”.
Arguably, the good news out of the US study was that with some simple tricks advertising can manipulate kids in a good way as much as it can a bad one.
The author of the US study, Professor Drew Hanks from Ohio State University, said of the study: “The results of this study highlight how the persuasiveness of marketing media can be leveraged in a positive way by encouraging children to make more nutritious choices.”
Hanks added that getting kids to eat more fruit and veggies was also a far cheaper option for schools alongside the health benefits.