For Disney, there are few more crucial tasks than finding and developing talent that appeals to 8- to 12-year-olds and perpetuating the pipeline of clean-cut Disney Channel stars whose singing, dancing and acting can be exploited across multiple platforms.I read Born to Buy a few years back, and still remember all these quotes from child marketing execs who felt guilty about what they sold; something along the lines of "I'm trying to sell this to kids, but I sure as hell wouldn't want my kid to get this, as a parent."
30 years ago and earlier, child marketing was aimed at the mother, who acted as gatekeeper for products for their children. As such, marketing targeted moms and emphasized benefits to the child that aligned with a parent's priorities - health, education, growth.
More recently, child marketing has shifted to communicate directly to the child, and encouraged kids to manipulate their parents into buying it. Many of these ad execs themselves will say that they are looking to create a source of conflict between children and parents, with the hope that children will win the conflicts (thus getting their parents to buy products).
As my father would say, another example of the decline and fall of the western world.
Source: Disney Revs Up Tween Star Machine