Children tend to relate with onscreen characters during the learning programs and build a positive relationship with that character, who seems to be heroic and/or loving and/or caring and/or funny. Then, when they interact with that character again, it tends to be in a commercial environment that’s tightly controlled, such as seeing Big Bird toothpaste on the grocery store shelf or Pokemon toys in their fast food restaurant. They want to continue that emotional connection – heroic and/or loving and/or caring and/or funny – but now the emotional connection they desire requires a purchase. Is it any wonder, really, that young children get very upset when their parents say “no” to buying an item depicting their favorite character? Often, it’s not the item they want. They want heroism, love, care, or laughter.
From an excellent, concise book review of Buy, Buy Baby