HOW do you explain marketing to a preschooler? More specifically, how do you explain commercials to a preschooler who isn't regularly exposed to them?
Thanks to the wonders of the digital age, our household does pretty well without cable television.
We have DVDs and can catch current TV shows and movies off our Amazon and Hulu subscriptions straight into our flat-screen. It really is video on
My kids watch their "Blue's Clues" and "Cars" without interruption. They are accustomed to narratives without commercial breaks.
So my wife and I were a bit flummoxed on a recent hotel stay when we turned on the TV and it began promoting the inn's pay-per-view service.
The first thing my 3-year-old son caught was a snippet of a Disney-Pixar "Toy Story" movie, which he had been watching in the car on the drive.
He couldn't understand that it wasn't actually on and that he couldn't just watch it there and then.
Telling him it was "just a commercial" required him to know what a "commercial" was.
Coming up with a pint-sized lesson on advertising proved to be kind of a challenge first thing after an all-night drive, so we just changed the channel and told him he couldn't watch it. Rough start to Thanksgiving Day, that.
Now Christmas is upon us and, somehow, my boy knows what he wants.
How did he figure that out?
Part of it is the old-fashioned way — lingering in the toy section at our local department stores.
And while the voluminous Sears Wish Book with which his daddy wove his yuletide dreams is no longer around, his hometown papers have been stuffed to the gills with circulars from Toys R Us and Target touting their stores of children's merchandise.
I watched our little newspaper reader pore through the pages as he carefully considered what he wanted Santa Claus to leave under the tree.
"I want this," he said, pointing to a picture.
"And this . . . And this. And this. And this. And this. And this." His finger was darting and poking about the page as if he were trying to squash a flea.
He kept this up for page after page until he reached the end. And I think he started back to the beginning.