Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Advertisements Increasing Childhood Obesity

Brienna Weibel

A lot of ethical decisions go into the production of advertisements today. An ad is looked at in several directions, and many times they are taken the wrong way. Although the creation of an is to attract attention to the company or product, a lot of the ads today are generating the wrong message, such as sex ads, food ads geared toward children and many more.

This past summer, I had to battle the trouble of babysitting a family who only allowed gluten free food and organic foods. While watching episodes on Nickelodeon all day, many commercials appeared on the television advertising the greatest snacks for kids.

Each time a commercial came on, the kids wanted to eat something that was bad for them, something high in sugar. This became a problem because they did have “grown-up” snacks in the pantry, but they were not allowed to touch those certain foods. Although the kids were eating healthier foods, advertisements in commercials today attract children, who see that the break from their TV show as the perfect time to eat an unhealthy snack!

Another problem that goes into food advertisements is the promotion from celebrities and athletes. Many of the athletes endorse poor food and energy drinks that lack nutrients kids need because they are very high in sugar. Very many people, especially the children watching these ads on TV, seem to not know about this. Many of these athletes with the most food endorsements are big time athletes, which is special to children who are sports fans and athletes themselves. 

Besides viewing many ads on television, we now have more areas to worry about, such as the Internet, social media sites and magazines. Today, children are exposed to many more ads and media in general than ever before. This is frightening seeing that children are exposed to 40,000 ads just on TV.

Something that I have noticed lately when out in public the use of iPhones, iPods and iPads by children instead of a Gameboy like in the past. This exposes kids to many more ads, because a lot of free apps have advertisements linked to the games. The Pandora station app also has advertisements after every couple of songs. Some of those ads are also aimed at food.

I think this is becoming an issue because childhood obesity is so high today. Unhealthy foods not only lead to childhood obesity but diseases such as diabetes. It will be interesting to see how the rate of childhood obesity increases if these advertisements continue.

I understand that an advertiser has a very hard job with this because there are a lot of ethical issues that go into advertisements. After reading the article about food advertisements geared toward children, I think that it is important to make a change sometime in the future.

I came across this video and think that it is very important for parents and also babysitters. It gives alternatives to stay away from the unhealthy food advertisements. Marketers and advertisers are trying to change their ways, but for now these are some other options that could help children stay away from bad foods. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Selling the Child Mind to Advertising

Casey Weinfurtner |

About less than a month ago I spent an entire afternoon watching old "Hannah Montana" reruns on Netflix. This wasn’t by choice, I promise. The six-year-old girl I was babysitting insisted upon having a "Hannah Montana" marathon, and I was in no position to win that battle. She knew every line to every song, and I sat back smirking as she danced to Hannah Montana’s stage performances. Needless to say, Hannah Montana was this six-year-old’s idol.

A few hours later, however many episodes deep, the little girl’s older brother entered the room and instantly blurts out, “Did you know Hannah Montana has short blonde hair now and she likes to wear no clothes?” I could feel the confusion spread upon the little girl’s face, and I had to swoop right into rescue mode to change the subject. The last thing I wanted to do was try to explain to a six-year-old that Miley Cyrus is currently maturing her image into a rebellious woman that “twerks” and licks sledgehammers. I can only imagine trying to explain to her parents that slip up.

Leaving the house that day, it got me thinking about the ways children idolize the stars they view on television and wondering to what extent that could lead. Watching the little girl I babysit mimic every dance move and word of Hannah Montana, it built a slight panic that one day she might see “adult Miley” and mimic the same behaviors. I’m sure it won’t be long before the many young girls idolizing her learn about her recent image evolution and want to be a part of the transition.

It’s not just Miley Cyrus that’s gone from a “good girl” on the Disney Channel to a glorified example of sex. Countless other child stars such as Vanessa Hudgens or Selena Gomez have made the shift to their adult image and publicly displayed it throughout the media. 

Vanessa Hudgens was exposed for having nude pictures back in 2007, and Selena Gomez is more recently showing off plenty of skin in her new music video “Come and Get It.” It is almost shocking at times that these are the type of stars we grew up with as kids, and that these stars are subconsciously influencing young minds with every media outlet they are advertised. Whether or not their new representation of themselves is widely welcomed initially, let’s face it: The better, sexier image sells.

                          Childhood stars flaunt their new mature image for ads

What are we really selling to kids? 

Children are surrounded daily by advertisements and news media that project idolized images or products into their youthful minds. As media progresses along with technology, it is almost impossible to escape the negative messages disguised by advertising to children. 

In fact, according to the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, children are exposed to 40,000 ads alone, and this doesn’t include all the other various forms of media advertising to which they're exposed. Children are taught daily to become what meets their eye, crave the food that’s glorified before them and own the material objects flaunted by ads.

In return, we have children morphing into the images they believe to be realistic expectation of society. According to Perri Klass of The New York Times, “Studies show that advertising does help push children and adolescents toward unhealthy behaviors, but also that it is increasingly difficult to shield them as marketers exploit the Internet and social media.” 

Children are a main target for ad manipulation and quite simply, they respond exactly the way advertisers need them to. They see the way their idol is dressed to promote a certain product and suddenly that product is more desirable. At a young age, children are unable to decode the messages being sent to them and distinguish between which images are an exaggeration or attainable. I know it certainly wouldn’t take much for the little girl I babysit to see Miley Cryus in her new wardrobe and believe she must learn to age at the same extreme. 

But the more children and teens see this the more of a normality it becomes and the more advertising succeeds. Children and teens see what advertisers want, and they become who they think they’re supposed to be.

Manipulation is far too strong 

Now that society is more aware of the media manipulation children suffice to on a daily basis, how do we make it stop? 

Advertising agencies are continuing on with success while children play into victimizing ads. What’s so ethical about that? Regardless of how much true representation is emphasized for media outlets, ads certainly target those who play into their game. The reality of the ads in our society is that the most shocking and outrageous promotions are what easily grasp the most attention, leading sexual or desirable content to drive the media. It is up to the individuals in the society receiving these messages to filter what information from the ad is most valuable.

As for the agencies, though manipulation has proven to be most affective, the most valuable part of the ad is what conveys truthful content in a powerful context. Unfortunately the media leaves us with fewer realistic options in the daily advertisements we succumb to. 

If advertising agencies continue to unethically manipulate the power of the media, when will the truth sell?

Sexually Implicit Ads

Hannah Yang |

Imagine. You're sitting down in front of the television with your family. You have two younger siblings, around 6 and 8 years, respectively. You flip on the tube to find some commercials on the air. Cool. You don't really think much about it, until a commercial with "Blurred Lines" selling the Dre Beat Pills comes on screen.

Though I've used this example before in a previous posting, this video conveys the message of something that I've heard multiple times: Sex sells.

The video portrays three attractive women who
use the product in sexually compromising ways. The subliminal message radiates through the television. Your siblings are watching and wondering if they can get the product because it looks cool and because they think that if they own this product people will like them more.

Viewers may want to own a Beat Pill because of the message that owning the product would equal sexual advances from the opposite gender. However, it infuriates me that the degragation of the sexes and the idea that a product will create certain personas floods the commercial air stream, which makes you wonder if things are really as bad as they appear.

In this next example, celebrity Britney Spears is endorsing her perfume line, but there's a similar theme that runs through the message. Sex. You get the overall consensus that Britney is doing more than singing "Hit Me Baby One More Time" within this commercial. She is implying that with this perfume men would want to have sexual encounters with her and that the scent of the perfume is very much seductive.

However, when will this idea that sex sells stop?

Human nature makes us all curious about the world of sex. We wonder, we're curious (not to build on the name of the perfume), but at the same time, is it possible to grab someone's attention by not giving into the message that sex is the only way to get someone's attention, building on someone's insecurities?

To me the very concept of "sex sells" allows different advertisers to imply that there's something different about the individual that does not own the product. The individual isn't complete without it. Their sex life is not great unless they have this product. They'll appear cooler with this product.

Commercials centralize the entire advertisement of their product, however the marketing toward the general public gives off the general concept that sex is the leading forefront of what the messages imply.

(This advertisement appeared in the yellow pages. When flipped it gives the impression that the person is digitally penetrating themselves. The slogan is sexually implicit and claims that the flooring is done by the best, however sexual innuendo suggests otherwise. Courtesy of CBS News.)

I wonder if sex is needed to prove that a service or product is worthy of the consumer? These different advertisements are not what they appear to be.

Why does it seem relevant that our media today is sexually saturated? When will advertisements stop preying on the insecurities of those who may be more impressionable with the subliminal messages of "sex sells?" Get this perfume and you'll receive a sexual encounter with a stranger if you have the guts. This perfume will make you more confident around the person you are attracted to. Have this product that plays awesome music. People will love you because you're cool and sexy by dancing around this product.

Advertisements that play up sex have that ulterior motive of trying to get the audience to fix something about themselves or to question themselves in order to get something that might not necessarily be something they really needed. They just want to sell the product by latching onto the deepest insecurities of the human psyche. Sex is an intimate act, and these advertisements imply that their sexual nature is not complete with these products.

I think that advertisements and marketing strategies to get the consumer to buy their services or products have gone on way too often. I think it's fair to make sure that people understand the implications of these sexual advertisements.

Sex sells, indeed. However, how much is too much?

Sex Sells, But Is Too Much Being Sold?

Kayla Welch

Advertising is a very important part of today's society, helping bring in large amounts of profit to companies. Advertisers continue to use different techniques to draw in consumers. They want to persuade the consumer to purchase their product by telling them that it will make them feel some sort of way.

Often companies will use celebrities for their advertisements, as it will draw in followers and fans of these celebrities to purchase the product. Other techniques include appealing to athletes, certain genders and, most importantly, through sex. Simply put, sex in advertising is the use of provocative material to lure in consumers to buy their products.

Many commercials have been known to use beautiful, young woman and more recently muscular and handsome, young men. Sex in advertising connects certain receptors in a person's brain and urges humans to develop a desire for the product. With this connection and response in humans, companies are able to sell more of a product by making the advertisement more sexual and appealing to the eye. Therefore, advertising companies continue to use the method of sex to increase sales. 

Trojan Condoms Pure Ecstasy Commercial

Even though sex helps sells products and allows companies to make more of a profit, is too much being sold through sex? Today there are more reoccurring themes of people displaying their entire bodies, completely naked, to the public. Celebrities especially are selling themselves through live shows and performances. In a sense, these celebrities view their displays as being confident and free and argue that they do not care what other people think about them. However, certain consumers and fans can get turned off by these actions and displays.

There is a fine line and companies often overstep these boundaries. A consumer may originally buy into the product, but if the product itself is not actually good, consumers will get turned off and realize they are being manipulated. Certain celebrities' fans may disapprove of their actions if they are showing too much to the public. Putting your own body on display is a personal decision, but it rubs some people the wrong way.

So what does the future of sexual advertisements hold?

Sex is here to stay and will continue to grow as it has proven to sell. It will become a bigger part of our advertising landscape, especially when celebrities continue to support the sexual, erotic display of the human body.

Celebrities will continue to draw attention, leading to continuous popularity of the sale of sex. When the products a company makes are actually good and have high demand in the market, people will continue to buy this product regardless of the use of sex. If the company simply creates a more erotic feel in their advertisement even more people will purchase this product due to erotic undertones. Pornography itself is a multi-million dollar industry, which goes to prove that humans have an unconscious and programmed urge to respond to such things.

So it is true: Sex does sell. 

Advertising Campaigns: The Ugly, Bad, and Good

Ann Watercutter

In my humble opinion, advertisers and every person involved in the development of ads have one of the greatest ethical responsibilities in our society.

As we continue to move into a mega-consumer culture, advertising space becomes ever more crowded, and the temptation to use short cuts and psychological manipulation becomes ever more pressing.

While a company obviously needs to understand its consumers in order to create better products that will benefit their users, there is a blurry line as to the appropriate depth of analysis. Our knowledge and technology are more advanced than ever, and it is up to humans to decide just how far is too far.

A lot of people may not understand how much money, time, thought and research goes into that one 30-second ad you see between episodes of "Breaking Bad."

Ads on TV are the third most influential form of advertising behind personal recommendations and consumer opinions posted online. It is TV where ad agencies and companies are spending a majority of those persuasive dollars, and it works.

It is estimated that by 2015, $603.1 billion will be spent on advertising. Something that matters that much to businesses should have practices that are transparent and understood by the public, but I fear this is generally not the case.

The Bad

The millennial generation is the first that has grown up with TV from a young, influential age, and the damages are apparent. Data has linked advertising and obesity, potentially due to the fact that at least 50 percent of the advertising targeting children is for food. Particularly advertised are those high in sugar and fat, with little nutritional value.  

Physical health is not the only concern. Material-centric teens are not leaving materialism and selfishness in their teen years. Adults and children alike can become obsessed with the next big thing; their personal value is tied to material goods. This type of thinking can obviously lead to self-esteem issues, because human value is tied to economic status. It is a sad reality that even I can see our society heading toward.

The Good

One of my favorite examples of quality advertising is Gatorade. While they perfectly understand their consumer, they use it in a way that I find tasteful and effective. Gatorade serves competitive people who are looking for an edge in their training. They want to win and are looking for the best training equipment, including the liquid they use to replenish their bodies.

The “One More” commercial shows Gatorade’s consumers that the brand is behind their goals, without being sneaky or targeting audiences that would require special protections. 

Advertising is a business of persuasion, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, the people in the business need to humanize their audience. It is vital that they think of the impact of every message and image they put out there, because it is incredibly influential. A generation that is exposed to millions of advertisements before they reach age 10 can become a product of those messages.