Children and Consumerism


I sit in front of a city square by the Main Square Cafe, having a cup of tea. I am surrounded by customers of all ages, enjoying their life on a bright saturday morning. Occasionally, police or fire sirens broke the day passing by a busy junction, but everything is in control. No body is in a panic mood. On my right is a busy department store, selling all branded items, and not far from it is a saloon, burger kiosk, fitness center; and prominent of all is a Metropolitan Theater. Just facing the cafe I sit in.

The square is strikingly clean, green and full of life. Even the trash bins are clearly marked for different types of rubbish; recyclable or otherwise. Marvelous, I repeatedly say to myself. There is even a chair for shoe shining on one corner of the square.

On the other end of the square is a bank, photo studio, dental clinic, ice cream shop, and a mini mart. All are busy as any in other metropolitans. The traffic is efficient, well managed, and – surprisingly, all cars are electically powered. Truly green and clean!

Strangely so, this IS in the middle of Jakarta. Impossible.

But, yes it is possible. Especially when most of its citizens, business operators, firemen, police force, dentist, researcher, shop assistants, journalist, and even radio dj-s are kids. Yes, kids of all ages.

Folks, BIG welcome to Kidzania city state; an ultra modern, prosperous and efficient country.

It is actually an in-door theme park that provides kids an experience how to run the world, err…a city. Kids are the ruler of the city and takes control of everything. Adults are suppose to stay off their businesses. Because the city has its own mayor, parliament, police force, labs, etc.

Far from being just a fun place for kids, this is a very serious undertaking. Kidzania is a very smart marketing display cum experience park, where kids rule adults. They work, play, see opera, take cabs or bus commuting, hang out, catch thieves, go to court, fly aeroplanes, or race the fast cars.

And, all the places here are fully sponsored by real brands, real product, real bank, taxi; except for the currency, for now.

Kids, in their tender age, experience working, living the adult life, and most of all shopping! Brands in all manifestation are visible everywhere, and the concept is very effective indeed. Kids from 3-13 years old are experiencing advertising and consumption and brand awareness at its core. Imagine, if at any given day some 1,400 kids (divided into two groups), growing up remembering and associating certain services and product to a certain brand. Its revolutionary.

This is ‘the real’ marketing. Ironically, it is also a blunt display of interactive education on consumerism.*** (old post, 2010)


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