Toy sales rose by 17 percent a year during 2002-04

Data from, a website catering to marketing and PR executives, shows that 12.8 million euros were spent on advertising for children in 2004. Of that, 9.1 million euros went on TV spots (around the same amount that was spent on all media in 2001). Toys came 43rd on the list of the most-advertised products. Looking at expenditure per company, Mattel spent 4.9 million euros on advertising in 2004 (putting it 77th on the list of all advertised companies), and of that sum, 95.9 million was spent on Barbie candles alone. Jumbo spent 3.6 million on advertising (coming 107th on the list); Hasbro Hellas spent 2.3 million (170th); DeAgostini Hellas spent 1.8 million (201st); and Giocchi Preziosi Hellas spent 1.5 million (247th). In the same year, Jumbo toy stores spent the largest amount on radio advertising (93.3 million), with Moustakas in 18th place (with 506,020 euros) and Zaharias in 84th with 243,834 euros. The advertising blitz pays off. According to a recent survey by ICAP, the domestic market for chain toy stores grew rapidly in 2002-2004, at an average annual rate of some 17 percent. Toy sales at the biggest chains grew from 128 million euros in 2002 to 170 million euros in 2004. In those three years, toys accounted for 70-73 percent of total sales in chain stores, with 90 percent of those sales related to traditional toys, and the remaining 10 percent representing electronic toys. Traditional toys accounted for 153 million euros in 2004, up from 115 million in 2002, while electronic toys went from 13 million euros in 2002 to 17 million in 2004. It is estimated this will continue to grow at an annual rate of 10 percent for the next two years. «Children are a dynamic market with growing and constantly changing needs,» said Irini Haklia of Bold Ogilvy advertisers, one of whose clients is Mattel (Barbie, Fisher-Price and Max Steel). «This is why advertising firms see toy companies as profitable clients,» she noted. What also plays a part is that children watch a great deal of TV. Studies show that boys watch an average of 2.1 hours a day during the week and 4.9 hours at weekends, while girls watch 2.2 hours 4.8 respectively. «The ages we are addressing, that of the 6-11 age group, watch a lot of TV, specially on Friday and Saturday,» said Halkia. And advertising companies are even able to alter a channel’s programming in order to attract an larger share of the audience. Films starring Aliki Vouyiouklaki get peak audiences. Law and loopholes How can children be a «dynamic market» for advertising when Law 2251/94 on consumer protection prohibits advertisements addressed to children aged 2-12 between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. (with the exception of toy stores)? Like all laws, this one has loopholes. We have all seen TV advertisements for children’s products in the middle of the day. As advertisers told Kathimerini, spots appearing in the banned time slot do not show the product itself but related products, such as a book or pictures of the product’s website which does not display the product but merely an illustration of it, which the law permits (it also allows advertisements for useful or educational products). «This is aimed at boosting the brand so as to imprint it more firmly in children’s minds, together with the advertisements shown in the evening,» they explained. As Halkia pointed out, the existing limits force advertisers to start their campaigns earlier, and have time to consolidate and build up the frequency only in the last days before peak buying periods. The law stipulates radio and television advertising must not impel minors to buy a product immediately or urge them to persuade their parents to buy the advertised products. According to the Greek Advertising and Communication Code, advertisements directed at children must not create a sense of urgency, must not exploit their natural credulity, and must not mislead them in terms of their prestige or popularity as compared with their peers, success at school and sport, or intelligence. Yet, surprisingly, the Radio Television Council handed down only 10 rulings from 2003 to 2005 in relation to children’s advertising, yet the Communication Monitoring Council has made no recommendations at all.