Exploring the effects of advertising has greatly expanded my knowledge on the methods in which advertisers reach their audience, and the phycological and physical effects resulting from overexposure to false perceptions portrayed by advertisements. It seems as if the most dangerous proposed threats regarding advertising relates to the younger audience, as they unaware of the manipulative power of ads and in the process of adopting habits that they may pursue for the rest of their lives.

The biggest concern appears in the abilities of advertisements to encourage harmful behaviors and establish unrealistic social standards, as children are surrounded by ads promoting unhealthy foods, women are constantly comparing themselves to the displayed image of the perfect, ideal appearance, and teens are overexposed to ads endorsing harmful products of drugs and alcohol.

As advertising establishes these possible negative effects, I was also reminded by the reality that advertising is a vital aspect of business and society, and allows necessary communication between industries and their audience. Although advertisers investigate specific ways in order to target a certain audience, using tactics seen as possibly manipulative and corrupt, their intentions are not to instill harm, but to promote and sell their product.

Living in a world of omnipresent advertisements

I felt as though the most difficult aspects of this assignment included the ability to use a lengthy article and produce a concise summary of the most important elements relating to my topic. My topic also expressed varying and opposing viewpoints, as evidence supporting negative effects of advertising on viewers was unable to offer direct, absolute proof, taking into account the phycology and other outside factors influencing a specific person and their behaviors. I thought the compare and contrast post was very interesting, as it granted insight into the two completely opposing views regarding the effects of alcohol advertising on youth. This also mirrored my interview post, as it expressed differing views on the impact of cigarette ads on the teen audience.

I greatly enjoyed the ability to explore any topic of choice, as I was intrigued by the impact of advertising, which reflects a relevant and omnipresent issue in today’s society. This issue seems especially prevalent with the growing and expanding methods of communication accompanying new technologies. I was alarmed to discover the many ways in which Facebook offered such a primary advertising market and utilized personal information to directly target specific individuals. As an avid user of Facebook, I am now aware of these methods of customized and personal advertising, and will be able recognize if I am falling victim to overbearing advertising ploys. I feel as though the assignment as a whole was very rewarding, as it was my first experience creating and managing a blog.

Although this is my final post, my observations have opened my eyes to advertising’s powerful role in our society and its possible harmful results towards human behaviors including eating disorders, childhood obesity, and abusive drug or alcohol abuse. I was overwhelmed in observing the abundance of advertisements and their ability to explore new and creative ways in order to target and enter the minds of their viewers.

The Advertising World of Facebook

With over 400 million members, Facebook has evolved to become an immense part of our daily, social lives. As many teenagers exhibit addictive behaviors, checking Facebook as much as every few minutes, the site has emerged as an unavoidable and influential part of society. Establishing a new method of communication and social interaction, Facebook opens new doors of opportunity and reveals an exciting new way for people to sustain relationships and share ideas by allowing people to contact old friends, communicate to a large mass of people or hold a one-on-one conversation, and express their personal interests and involvements.

Possessing these vast possibilities and becoming such a large aspect of our changing society, Facebook exhibits a new powerful and influential market for advertising. The site has previously utilized information given by the user, including their status updates, wall posts, age, gender, where they live, occupation, relationship status, and other content  or pages a member “likes” to display certain advertisements to users on later visits. However, according to “Facebook tries out targeted ads,” Facebook is experimenting with new technology that “instantly targets ads based on the content of members’ wall posts and status updates, as the social network joins a growing list of Internet companies working with advertisers to market products related to a person’s interests or online activities at that moment.”

Unavoidable Facebook advertising, directly targeting the specific user

This method of advertising, currently used by websites such as Google, provides instant, targeted advertising in an opened webpage based upon the content of the browser’s search or profile. The extension of this capability to Facebook allows advertisers to reach the overwhelmingly large audience occupying the site in the exact instance they express an interest through the constant sharing of information with friends.

As Facebook is a very personal system of expression, this instant and customized mode of advertising establishes a possible positive aspect, exposing users to products of interest faster and easier. It also aids advertising companies, as they are able to target and better communicate with an audience already attracted to their product.

However, this also creates concern regarding the debate on what subjects to use for advertising, as Internet analysts realize the risk of alienating people who feel their personal lives threatened or infringed upon with advertising that seems “too relevant.”

Does Alcohol Advertising Cause Abuse to Youth?

The abundance of alcohol advertisements, especially on television, presents a possible influential factor regarding the actions and attitudes of youth towards alcohol. According to “Alcohol Advertising Targeted to Youth Causes Abuse,” restrictions of the alcohol industries are too relaxed, allowing their advertisements to target an audience primarily composed of teens under the age of 21. Many of these ads glamorize drinking or portray abusive drinking behavior as socially acceptable or even fun, possibly enticing young people to start drinking abusively or at an early, illegal age.

A study conducted by the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth in 2001, surveying youth exposure to alcohol advertisements, revealed shocking evidence that about a fourth of television alcohol advertising, comprising of about 51,084 ads, was delivered more effectively to youth than to adults, reaching 89 percent of the youth audience. Other research conducted in 2001 reflected that alcohol industry spent “$1.8 million and placed 3,262 ads on programs where the underage audience was more than 50%.”

The loose restrictions placed on the advertising industries targeting a young audience, along with the overwhelming amount of these alcohol ads presents a possible motivating force propelling the growing issue of underage drinking and abuse.

Enticing its audience to endorse alcohol in order to obtain happiness

Enticing its audience to endorse alcohol in order to obtain happiness

While these strong feelings towards alcohol advertising depict a harmful threat towards early alcohol habits and consumption, others believe that the ads possess no methods of corruption. As advertising is designed to inform the public and convey a message, alcohol industries use advertising as a mode of communication in order to promote and sell their product. This presents a vital necessity in the prosperity of business and consumer awareness.

Ideas reflected in “Alcohol Advertising Targeted to Youth May Not Cause Abuse” support the opinion that alcohol industries are strictly limited and promote restricted terms of self-regulation. The American alcohol beverage industry has established separate voluntary advertising codes instigated by the beer, wine and distilled spirits industries, and the “Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is responsible for enforcing efforts to stop ‘unfair or deceptive acts of practice’ and recently was asked to review industry efforts to avoid promoting alcohol to underage consumers.”

Along with the claim that the alcohol industries exhibit and attempt to maintain honorable and controlled practices, recent studies by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services support an insignificant and intangible correlation between advertisements and underage drinking,  claiming a lack of conclusive and consistent evidence.

Many sources present conflicting evidence regarding the question of the impact of alcohol advertisements on teens and their thoughts and actions towards alcohol. The uncertainty of this issue allows opposing views, but also establishes a worrying concern on the impact of television ads on the well being and life long habits adopted by children at an early age.

Effects Of Cigarette Advertising

The series of interviews composing the video, “The Effects of Cigarette Advertising,” reflect opposing views regarding the influence of cigarette advertising, especially towards youth. It explores the ways advertisements of the cigarette industries target their audience and implement an urging desire to smoke, establishing an extremely dangerous incentive for teens to begin smoking at an early age.

While some believe that smoking is ultimately decided upon by the individual, many others recognize persuasive advertising techniques that encourage teens to smoke and endorse specific companies due to the image or perception they establish.

Fitness Magazines and Eating Disorders: Is There a Relationship?

Many advertisements, especially in the clothing and makeup industries, portray beautiful, thin, models with perfect bodies and flawless features that seem to establish the perfect, ideal appearance in the eyes of females. Many women seem to observe advertisements as a representation of the ultimate image they should aspire to obtain. Viewers, especially young females, already insecure about their figures, might be harmfully impacted by the standard of beauty and appearance set by the ever-encompassing advertising industry.

A study dicussed in “Fitness Magazines and Eating Disorders: Is There a Relationship?,” reflects the growing concern of the possible harmful effects of advertising. Led by Steven R. Thomsen, associate professor of communications at BYU, and published in the June 2001 issue of the American Journal of Health Education, the study investigated the impact of the “ideal” image constantly promoted in magazines on young women. As Thomsen’s own daughter suffered from eating disorder behaviors, he strongly “believe[s] women’s health and fitness magazines may be an important sociocultural influence in the development or perpetuating of eating disorder attitudes.”

Promoting flawless looks as an ideal goal for women

Promoting flawless looks as an ideal goal for women

Investigating this issue, he found that frequent readers of women’s health and fitness magazines were more prone to participating in weight control practices and unhealthy behaviors including bulimia and anorexia nervosa. Among the nearly five hundred surveyed high school girls, Thomsen and his researches discovered abundant evidence of unhealthy weight control practices including the use of laxatives and appetite control pills for weight loss, self-induced vomiting, and restrictions of 1,200 or less daily calories.

  • Almost 80 percent of the girls who made themselves vomit were frequent readers of health and fitness magazines
  • Of those who used appetite suppressants or weight-control pills, about 73 percent were frequent readers of these magazines
  • About 60 percent of the girls who had used laxatives in the past year were also frequent readers of these magazines
  • Among frequent readers, those who restricted their calories to under 1,200 a day outnumbered nearly two to one those who did not

This shockingly discovered correlation between magazine consumption and harmful behaviors and eating habits among women presents an overwhelming realization of powerful influence of advertising. Although not offering an absolute cause and effect relationship, the possibility of advertising possessing power over one’s mind and body is deeply concerning and continues to raise awareness towards the health and well being of women.

Schools explore advertising as idea for extra revenue

“Schools explore advertising as idea for extra revenue” by Dave Aeikens:

Ads are in five Minnesota school districts and in schools in five states; schools in another seven states are expected to sign on, School Media co-founder Greg Meyer said. The recent budget struggles of schools have helped the 2-year-old company grow.

Ads in schools are starting to show up more as schools look for ways to maintain programs and services with limited state and local tax dollars. Idaho and Utah are looking at allowing advertising on school buses.

Implementing advertising in schools has become a growing trend in order to improve recent funding and budget deficits. Following the example of many other Minnesota public school districts, St. Cloud is now debating the possible financial solutions accompanying advertising in its schools. As the district currently suffers a budget shortage of 1.5 to 3 million dollars for its 2011 to 2012 school year, the school board is contemplating the issue in desperate need of financial aid and in hopes of offering an alternate solution to teacher layoffs.

Becker, a Minnesota school district possessing a contract with School Media of Coon Rapids, receives successful revenue for displaying advertisements on lockers, benches, walls, and other open spaces within its schools. The advertisements are claimed to be limited to promoting health and wellness, reflecting a major concern of school board members regarding advertising in schools.

Many superintendents fear the unleashing of unrestricted advertising into their schools that could possibly find a way into the classrooms, acknowledging the powerful influence of advertising on children and the need of vital restraints.

St. Cloud currently upholds a policy updated in 2008 that allows advertising to pay for educational programs and activities that must meet standards of the community and the school board. School Media also agrees to strictly promote healthy lifestyles and educational or nutritional wellness products, encouraging exercise and healthy eating habits for children.

Superintendent Jim Johnson of Monticello Schools shows a display of possible locker advertising under consideration at several school districts

Superintendent Jim Johnson of Monticello Schools shows a display of possible locker advertising under consideration at several school districts

Advertisements embodying the ideas established by School Media present a possible positive influence on children and the community, promoting healthy habits while providing desperately needed money for the schools.

Although this conveys advertising in a positive light, the Centennial school district in Circle Pines last year rejected advertising as a financial solution despite the estimated $200,000 to $300,000 that would have been gained by the proposals.

Superintendent Bruce Watkins of the St. Cloud school district shares this tentative approach towards advertising, continuing to explore every possible option to improve the districts’ severe financial situation.

This reflects advertising’s prominent and overwhelming role in society, as it possesses the power to influence the financial and educational system of public schools across America. This exhibits advertising’s ability to act as a helpful source of aid and assistance, but also raises worry of its influential position in the lives of children.

Advertising Targeting Children

Children present a prime target of the advertising industry, as they are perceived as naive and easily susceptible to persuasive techniques, unaware of advertising’s intentions to sell a product prior to the age of 7 or 8.

Television reflects one of the largest opportunities to impact a child’s mind with advertising ploys, as it is estimated that children in America are exposed to about 20,000 to 40,000 commercials each year and possibly 360,000 television ads throughout their educational career until the time that they graduate from high school. As television has become an excessive and daily routine for many children in today’s society, it is overwhelming to comprehend the intangible exposure of children to commercials, exhibiting a strong and prominent influence in their lives from an early age.

Over half of all ads targeting children market food alone, and a study surveying Saturday morning children’s programming cited in “Advertisers View Teens as Marketing Opportunities,” discovered that these ads primarily showcase fast food restaurants and junk foods high in sugars and fats. Observing that its greatest emphasis was placed on sugary breakfast cereals, with no ads endorsing fruits or vegetables, advertising is seen as greatly promoting unhealthy eating habits for children. Intrigued by cartoon characters and surrounded by omnipresent displays of snack and junk foods, the child audience is overexposed to ideas endorsing unhealthy behaviors, possibly contributing to harmful habits and childhood obesity.

A recent report by the US General Accounting Office (GAO) reveals the growing use of advertising in public school environments, also discovered to focus primarily on unhealthy foods endorsed by the schools. The GAO report revealed the shocking amount of direct advertising in schools such as “soft drink, fast food, or snack food corporate logos on athletic scoreboards, sponsorship banners in gyms, ads in school newspapers and yearbooks, free textbook covers with ads, and screen-saver ads on school computers for branded foods and beverages.”

The use of cartoon characters and interactive websites to attract children

The use of cartoon characters and interactive websites to attract children

The advertising market takes advantage of schools’ continuous search for financial aid and assistance, along with their quality of possessing a mandatory, closed environment serving as a vital aspect of every child’s life. Some US marketing companies, such as Cover Concepts, are specifically designed to target schools alone, distributing free sponsored materials to children such as textbook covers, bookmarks, or posters branded with company logos and advertisements.

As Internet access and usage by children continues to rapidly expand, new advertising techniques have emerged including company websites offering games, quizzes, and other interactive opportunities for children. Many of these websites use interactive activities to lure children into participating in games that feature products or merchandise, or utilize cartoon characters embodying or representing a specific company. Children are attracted and deceived by websites perceived as merely fun and designed for their sole entertainment, while their whole basis of existence is actually to advertise for a company or a product. Vulnerable and easily enticed by games, toys, prizes, and cartoon characters, children represent the ultimate marketing target for advertising.

Investigating Advertising’s Influence on Society

I feel as though society is consumed with the overwhelming amount of advertisements, inevitably staring us in the eye and engulfing our thoughts every single direction we turn. Between television, the radio, the Internet, billboards, signs, posters, magazines, fliers, etc., advertisements seem to play an unavoidable and inescapable role in almost every aspect of our daily lives.

I plan to investigate the power of manipulative ploys used in everyday advertisements that influence our ideas and actions, convincing us to buy things we truly do not need or aspire to attain a false sense of reality. I also intend to explore the ways in which advertising targets certain groups with specific techniques in order to convey a certain message or alter the perception of what’s socially acceptable or required.

Setting an image and standard of beauty for women

Setting an image and standard of beauty for women

I find it interesting how we are so easily persuaded to purchase products endorsed by celebrities or others we aspire to compare to. The intriguing power employed by advertisements seems capable of influencing and convincing the public to submit to the necessities created by the advertising world around them. Advertising holds to power to pollute the minds of the public and set the social standards of beauty, fitness, fashion, and technology, creating an image of what one should look like, what one must own or buy, or how one must live or act. This unyielding impact also reveals advertising’s ability to distort and diminish the gap between what a person desires and what they believe they must acquire to be successful or happy.

I believe that as a society, we are becoming susceptible to believing in anything we see or hear and are vulnerable to the mesmerizing ads around us, polluting our minds and altering our realistic grasp on necessity and reality.