In its effort to create cradle-to-grave loyalty to brand names, the advertising industry spends over $15 billion a year on reaching children?from teens to infants. So far, it's working. Kids currently determine more than $600 billion in household spending annually, influencing their parents' purchases of everything from snack foods to cars. Susan Linn has devoted her life to fighting children-targeted advertising as the instructor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, associate director of the Media Center at Judge Baker Children's Center in Boston, cofounder of the Coalition Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, and a parent and stepparent living in Brookline, Massachusetts. Linn spoke to Chronogram about her book, Consuming Kids: Protecting Our Children from the Onslaught of Marketing and Advertising (Anchor Books, 2005).

Was advertising for kids ever innocent?

It was never innocent, but it didn't permeate everything. That's the difference. In 1983 corporations were spending about $100 million marketing to children on television; last year it was up to about $15 billion. The escalation began in the '80s and intensified in the '90s. Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood [CCFC] came about because I was doing research on marketing to kids and came across the Golden Marble Awards, the advertising industry's celebration of marketing to kids. I thought that was horribly offensive, and that it would be a good focus for a demonstration. I called a colleague who does work on media violence and play, and my boss, a psychiatrist and activist. We decided to hold a demonstration outside the Golden Marble Awards in New York. We got colleagues from around the country to join us, and formed CCFC in 2000.