Do TV Ads Encourage Kids to Drink?
Researchers at the School of Community and Global Health at Claremont Graduate University in California did a study on seventh graders to see how television ads for alcohol affected them.
The middle school students were shown ads and then asked if they thought the ad was sexy, funny, or whatever. The children who thought the ads were entertaining were more likely to drink than those who didn’t.
This is the goal of advertising, after all. Companies create ads to make consumers want to buy their product. They try to appeal to our emotions in some way.
It should be no surprise that kids are as drawn to the ads as adults are. Remember the beer commercial with the frogs a decade or so ago? That campaign became so popular that those frogs were on kid’s tee shirts as well as adult clothing.
It’s up to parents to teach kids how advertising works and to monitor what they see on television. It’s up to the media to ensure that the messages aren’t attractive to kids, or at least to run the commercials during times when children are unlikely to be watching television. Simply adding a drink responsibly tag at the end of a commercial is obviously not very effective.
It’s going to be a hard balance to achieve. Companies certainly want their advertisements to encourage people to buy their product, and good advertising is the most effective tool they have.
Is there a way for advertising to reach the target audience without encouraging underage kids to drink?