Kyle Asquith has some intimate knowledge about how television markets products to children, but is also quick to dispel the widely accepted notion that it was the TV industry that invented the methods so commonly used today.
“There’s a misconception that marketing to children came in the television age,” says Dr. Asquith, the newest faculty member in the department of Communication, Media and Film. “Most companies already had the tactics and strategies of marketing to children nailed by the 1920s.”
Asquith left a job several years ago at Corus Entertainment in Toronto, where he worked in sales for children’s network YTV, to pursue a master’s degree at the University of Windsor in 2007 in communications and social justice.
“This job is coming back home to me in many ways,” said Asquith, who was born and raised in Brampton, Ontario, and earned his undergraduate degree at York University.
After completing his graduate degree here, he went on to pursue a PhD at Western University. It was there that he focused on the history of marketing food to children, looking specifically at print and radio ads from breakfast cereal companies like Post, Kellogg and Cream-of-Wheat that were geared towards children in the days before television.
“Food is the staple that connects children to the marketplace,” said Asquith. “It’s all about branding and creating long-term brand loyalty. Cereal companies were really the first to master these techniques, and they did it mostly through radio shows.”
Although he hopes to find time to pull some journal articles out of his PhD dissertation, Asquith said he’ll be focusing more of his time on undergraduate teaching duties. This fall, he’ll be teaching courses called Introduction to Media and Society; Advertising in Social Context; and Public Opinion, Public Relations and Propaganda. In the winter semester he’ll teach Popular Culture, and a fourth-year seminar course called Advertising and Culture.
“I’m just going to try to be an exceptional teacher,” he said. “I hope to connect with undergrads here for critical theory, but also appeal to the people who are pursuing communications as a career path.”
When he can find spare time, Asquith is music fan who loves going to live concerts and numbers Phish, the Grateful Dead, Pearl Jam and Bruce Springsteen among his favourite artists. He also said he loves walking along the city’s waterfront.
“That’s my favourite part of Windsor,” he said.