The Wikipedia definition of embedded advertising or marketing is “Product placement, brand integration or embedded marketing is, according to the United States Government “any form of audio-visual commercial communication consisting of the inclusion of or reference to a product, a service or the trade mark thereof so that it is featured within a program, in return for payment or for similar consideration”. “
If you see a certain type of soft drink prominently displayed in a movie, be aware that that is not by accident. That brand has paid a lot of money to the producer to be able to subtly promote their brand. Think about any Bond movie – the car brand of choice is the Aston Martin making it synonymous with the “cool” factor of James Bond, the British spy.
Embedded advertising is a very real threat to the minds of our children not to mention our own. Most of the games available today, especially the free ones, are chockfull of embedded advertisements.
Most of the marketing is targeted and tweaked as per the game. So, if you have a shoot ‘em up type of game, you might have ads that aim at buying toys of that genre. Games that have anything to do with candy or food, have ads that push that genre of food. Games that deal with a specific type of toy, e.g. My Little Pony or Barbie, will push that particular brand of toy.
Now all of this works subliminally in our brain without our even realizing it. This kind of marketing tricks our brain into creating a desire for that particular item. As adults, we are able to control it to some extent but not even we are able to escape it totally. Children are completely susceptible to it and have literally no defense against it.
Studies show that after playing a food based game, a child eats anywhere from 55% to 72% more candy than any other food item. Candy which would hit their sugar levels, their weight, etc.
The only way to control this is to educate them in healthy eating from birth and also to limit the access they have to candy. Another way is to limit the time they spend on these games and instead encourage them playing a game that is more educational for them instead.
Ultimately, it is up to the parent to take the hard step of curbing the child when needed.