Move over Count Dracula, Advertising is here!

14Apr08

Back in the day, well-known musicians would roam the streets of Sesame. Artists from Johnny Cash to Steven Tyler to the Spin Doctors have hung out with Big Bird, Elmo and Oscar the Grouch.

A new artist will be hanging out with the furry and feathered friends. However, she’s a wonderful artist, and she’ll be singing one of her largest singles. In fact, if you don’t like under a rock, you’ve probably heard it. Don’t know whom I am talking about? Think iPod.

I’m talking about Feist. The little songbird who put out music years before her break with the iPod commercial. You know, it’s the “1, 2, 3, 4”. Get it? For kids, it’s counting. What’s my point? Good for her?

Well, my initial reaction was: “that’s adorable”. And upon further thought, how do we all know about that song? Through an advertisement, right? Will the main audience of Sesame Street, children, recognize that song? Yes. They didn’t delve into the indie world where Feist got her start, they don’t seek out music, and they enjoy music that comes to them. So obviously, jingles, songs sung on television shows (such as Sesame Street) and music taught in classrooms is picked up and become known.

Ipod Commercial

So fine? That’s the way it has been for years. But the iPod phenomenon has happened. The songs chosen by Apple to sell their iPods have greatly increased in sales after the commercial. So the sales go up. That could be because of branding with Apple or that the commercials often being played repetitively. Let’s go with the bulk of commercial airtime.

Children younger than second and third grade can’t even tell between programming and advertising. So that brings in the ethics, should children be advertised to? Even if they aren’t being targeted, they are still affected by commercials. In this case, iPods, as far as I know, weren’t directed to the Sesame Street crowd, however, these young children will recognize the “1, 2, 3, 4”. (If you need to, listen here.)

Now, I’m not ragging on Feist for doing her thing or doing the iPod commercial. She would be crazy not to. And like I said, I think it’s really cute for her do that song for children. (Just a note: She recorded her visit on Sesame Street and it will air sometime this year.) But, I’m just kinda surprised (if that’s the right word) that a song that is so strongly associated with advertising is up in the ranks with Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” (before that was used in a commercial) and being used on a children’s show.
Veggie Monster
But really, rumors have it, that Sesame Street is going under a make over of sorts. I’ve heard that they want to replace Cookie Monster (because he’s obese and promoting sugary foods) with a Veggie Monster. And they want to gentrify the street some more and kick out their only homeless resident Oscar the Grouch.

If I wasn’t raised on Mr. Rogers and cartoons, I’d be outraged by the character changes. But I’m not outraged. I guess I’m just a little confused. We want the world to be perfect; we want our children’s shows to reflect this imaginary perfect world. You know, the world that’s so perfect. The same world advertisements show, where everyone is happy and in shape and can count to four simultaneously.

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3 Responses to “Move over Count Dracula, Advertising is here!”

  1. 1 Knit1Purl2

    Very insightful commentary. However, the world is only perfect on tv and in movies. Shouldn’t we prepare kids for the way it really is? Help build their coping mechanisms early on?

  2. I think Feist is a sweetheart and vegetables are healthy. And Oscar encourages misery. No problems with the new Seseme Street here. This coming from a childhood fan.
    Advertising tries to get into people’s heads–thats it’s purpose. Is it deceitful? Seems that way. Do I want to be manipulated? No. But I like that song, even if it’s not in a commercial! I think it’s good enough to make Feist a respectable guest at the Street. C’mon, she’s definately better than Sheryl Crow.
    Apple has a strong brand name, and maybe the Big Bird audience is being subconsciously indoctrinated into the iUniverse. But how much should I trust TV programming any more than the commercials anyway?


  1. 1 Buy: Sesame Street’s Revival | Buy Or Don't Buy

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