The ethicality of immersive sponsorship within a children’s edutainment centre

Source of Publication

Making a Difference Through Marketing: A Quest for Diverse Perspectives


© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2016. In a shift away from traditional advertising, brands are increasingly embedding themselves into children’s lived experiences. Immersive brand placements within educational vehicles such schools, textbooks and edutainment centres are worthy of an ethical examination as children may find it difficult to understand their persuasive intent. This study investigates the ethicality of immersive sponsorship within a children’s edutainment centre. Pre, post, and follow-up interviews were undertaken with 17 children and one of their parents who visited the heavily branded edutainment venue, Kidzania. Applying a deontological perspective, the results suggest that immersive sponsorship is inherently wrong, as children aged twelve and under are generally unable to determine the persuasive intent of the sponsoring brands. Embedded within an educational and entertaining setting, the children engaged with the brands in a very positive light, unaware of persuasive intentions and unable to apply a cognitive defence. In contrast, the vast majority of parents perceived the immersive sponsorships to be ethical. Those who applied a relativist argument saw the act as ethical in the cultural context of our contemporary and commercialised world, and specifically the city of Dubai. In contrast, those who applied the utilitarian approach argued that the act was a form of corporate social responsibility, producing a net benefit for society by helping to fund and run a realistic educational experience, and increasing the confidence of the child participants. While the opposing conclusions make it difficult to provide clear policy guidance, one recommendation is to focus on advancing the marketing literacy of children.

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Springer Singapore

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Author First name, Last name, Institution

Damien Arthur, Zayed University

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