The Elimination of Advertising Directed At Children in Quebec: a Quasi-Experiment

Marvin E. Goldberg, McGill University
[ to cite ]:
Marvin E. Goldberg (1989) ,"The Elimination of Advertising Directed At Children in Quebec: a Quasi-Experiment", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 16, eds. Thomas K. Srull, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 790.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 16, 1989      Page 790

THE ELIMINATION OF ADVERTISING DIRECTED AT CHILDREN IN QUEBEC: A QUASI-EXPERIMENT

Marvin E. Goldberg, McGill University

Methodological problems associated with surveys and experiments, methods typically used to study the effects of advertising on children, are reviewed. In brief, it is suggested that due to the forced exposure of experimental subjects, effects obtained using experimentation may be overstated. Equally, surveys may result in spurious correlations with "self-selection" responsible for observed relationships between exposure to TV commercials and various outcome measures. A number of solutions are proposed to this dilemma, including one suggestion that researchers become attuned to the possibility of a natural or quasi-experiment.

One recent natural experiment developed as a result of a law enacted by the Province of Quebec, Canada, eliminating advertising directed at children under 13 years of age, on Quebec-based TV stations. This left American border stations as the main source of information for those children's products that were specifically targeted at children. A quasi-experiment developed, inasmuch as this information (American TV commercials) was far more accessible to English-speaking than to French-speaking children in Quebec, given their relative affinities for American (English-language) programming. The law eliminating advertising directed at children was hypothesized to have considerable effect on French but not English Canadian children. Dependent measures included the awareness of various toys on the market and the number of children's cereals purchased. Results of the study are discussed.

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