Landscapes of Global Capital
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Feed the children
Corporate paternalism
The cure
High tech classroom
Child prodigy
The obnoxious visionary
Unfettered imagination
We care
Harmonious music
Cynicism of legitimation
You can't buy love
Harmony of technology

Concern for children and family values links the category of children with the need to maintain a moral center in our society. It is not surprising that we find children cast in recurring roles as actors in legitimation commercials. Concern for children demonstrates a corporation's high moral commitments and social responsibility. For example, a Texaco commercial follows a child violinist from home to a performance. The male narrator states:

"It's believed that learning music early can help kids do better in math and science.
So the simple act of learning to carry a tune, can carry a kid a long, long, way.
Early Notes music education, proudly sponsored by Texaco."

Another Texaco commercial praises its employees who coach kids.

"At Texaco a number of our employees also coach kids.
And they tell us life on the playing field is not much different than life on the Texaco oil fields.
You don't always hit the target
The weather doesn't always cooperate
And sometimes when you wonder how you'll ever find the energy to go on, you just dig down a little deeper.
And there it is.
Texaco a proud sponsor of the US Olympic team."

Both commercials link a discourse of motivation to their legitimation discourse. Determined children succeeding in both music and sport serve as a metaphor for the determined corporation that will "dig down a little deeper" to satisfy our energy needs. This motivational pun about the ways in which neither our cultural heroes nor our corporate institutions will be deterred, or surrender or give in to adversity. Using children in legitimation ads not only demonstrates corporate social responsibility but also connotes the shared ideology of teamwork and achievement. Texaco personalizes its relationship to children; its personnel donate their free time coaching children. Supporting children in athletics is a common motif in legitimation advertising. Sport has become the panacea for social problems linked to youth. Signifiers of children engaged in sport are imagistically engaging. They demonstrate concern mixed with achievement and play.

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© Copyright 1998-2003
Robert Goldman, Stephen Papson, Noah Kersey