Barrie Gunter
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Brands and adverworlds
in Kids and branding in a digital world
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This chapter turns attentions to the presence of brands in online virtual worlds that take the form of social communities rather than environments in which specific games are played out. While online games provide specific settings in which a particular narrative is played out, in virtual online worlds a parallel universe is created that the individual can enter and engage with multiple narratives. Within that setting, the individual can be confronted with many different brands just as in their everyday reality and might also be invited to engage with those brands as they would in their real world. We examine examples of this type of experience and what is known about the way children behave and respond towards brands in them. Once again there are important questions about the ways children respond to brand in virtual realities and whether they can use what they learned from their real world consumer socialisation in making judgments about brands they interact with in virtual realities. How relevant are models of children’s cognitive development might help us to explain better how they respond to brands in these different online settings?

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