Since the first ever marketing class I've taken, I've become keenly aware of how advertising effects children. You'll see ads on TV between Nickelodeon shows that use characters to tell children to ask their parents for such-and-such toy or food product next time they are in the store. Someday I want to be the genius who develops a manual for teaching children about advertising so they are more aware of selling techniques. Not sure how effective that would be in helping children make healthy choices... if children would care or absorb. I mean, you're fighting a verbal battle against the likes of Sponge Bob and Dora. They are way more convincing and entertaining in a kids world, plus Dora throws in some Spanish occasionally to add some validity.
But I'm glad that there are some regulations regarding using characters to advertise to children. A significant reason for those laws was Joe Camel and the number of children who began smoking because a cartoon was suggesting it. Tobacco companies can no longer use cartoons to sell their products.
My mom sent me the article below because she knew of my passion on the subject. Yale did a study on food preferences based on packaging. It's pretty interesting, especially their statistics/opinion on whether a cartoon would help sell carrots.
Can Shrek 'Ogrecome' the Lure of Junk Food?
Read and understand my dorkiness!