The D.L. on D.O.

I recently read a New York Times article about Old Spice’s newest advertising.  Old Spice, a Procter and Gamble brand, is advertising their new deodorant, Ever Clear, in a bolder way than ever before.  One advertisement that I came across was a print ad with a male in his 20s stands on a beach. Waving and smiling, he is clearly unaware that, dangling from his underarm to nearly his knee, is the word “idiot,” spelled out in white, foamy letters, which match bits of deodorant visible in his armpit. A bikini-clad woman looks up from a magazine at him, and the copy reads, “Residue Is Evil. Stop It.”

The new deodorant uses less powder and wax than other P.& G. deodorants, but it does not trumpet the claim typical for “invisible solids” and “clear gels” of keeping clothing free of deodorant streaks.  However, their marketing campaign was designed to create insecurities in men by pointing out residue that many current deodorants leave behind.

Creating insecurities in people is the main way advertisers are attempting to target an individual.  In most cases, not only does it work, but causes a self-conscious chain reaction in ourselves and society.  Old Spice proves that this technique is used on everyone, not just the easy targets like women and children.

In my ideal world, advertising as manipulative as this wouldn’t be allowed.  However, without stricter regulations, I’m afraid advertisers have full access to warping, molding and manipulating our thoughts, behaviors as well as the ways we perceive ourselves and the rest of the world.

Advertising causes eating disorders…. whats new?

Barbie was definitely my hottest friend growing up.  I loved playing with her, I was even envious of her… a doll,  yes, I know.  But, I couldn’t help but want her perfectly symmetrical face, enormous blue eyes, legs for days, child’s waist and perfect boobs.  I remember stuffing my pink blouse with toilet paper and running around the house with my mom’s heels and lipstick.  Looking back, I realize how f***ed that is.  My envy turned into insecurity and I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t as pretty as Barbie.

I grew increasingly interested in advertising and its affects on women and children as I grew older, realizing that I never should have felt the way I had as a child.  I found new research that explores the relationship between so called “thin-ideal” that talkes about body-image issues in the media among young women: Female undergraduates who viewed advertisements displaying ultra-thin women exhibited increases in body dissatisfaction, negative mood, levels of depression and lowered self-esteem.  Go figure? These findings were particularly true for women who have negative views of their current body image and believe themselves to be overweight.

The study shows that women who possess these body image concerns are twice as likely to compare their own bodies to those of the thin models in the advertisements. They are also more likely to have those comparisons affect their self-worth, leading to feelings of depression, body dissatisfaction and preoccupation with diet and exercise.

WOMEN ALL AROUND YOU HAVE STOPPED EATING BECAUSE THEY THINK THEY ARE UGLY.

Thanks advertising, now I’ve got make-up to last me for years and a year gym membership that I’ve used like 3 times.  But on a serious note, it could be your sister, your friend, you classmate, your relative, your neighbor or maybe even you who has been affected; and the worst part is that someone targeted you and their goal was to create an insecurity within you just to make a quick buck.

Global regulations on Advertising

Did you know that the United States has the weakest regulations against advertising?  False advertising and health-related ads, like tobacco, are regulated the most but for the most part (besides some communities that restrict outdoor advertisements) advertisers are free to do what they want.

Sweden and Norway prohibit domestic advertising that targets children completely,  and Denmark has the strictest regulations in the entire world, allowing minimal advertising in all channels.  Is it any surprise that these are the top three happiest countries according to Travel.com?  I don’t think so.  In my personal, first-hand opinion I noticed that people in northern Europe are less materialistic and more focused on community.  Other countries throughout Europe don’t allow sponsorship of children’s programs, or advertisements be aimed at children under the age of twelve, or advertisements five minutes before or after a children’s program is aired.

I hope and wish that someday the United States regulations will change and become stricter so that our youth won’t contract the same insecurities we have, become less of a consumer, and find happiness within one another rather than in material possessions.

Advertising > Parents

I summarized a study revealing advertising v.s. parent power when it comes to children making food decisions:

Objective:
To evaluate whether advertising for food influences choices made by children, the strength of these
influences, and whether they might be easily undone by parental influences.

Study design: Children between 3 and 8 years of age were randomized to watch a series of programs
with embedded commercials. Some children watched a commercial for a relatively healthy food item, the other
children watched a commercial for a less healthy item, both from the same fast-food company. Children were
also randomized either to receive parental encouragement to choose the healthy item or to choose whichever
item they preferred.

Results: Results indicated that children were more likely to choose the advertised item, despite parental input.
Parental input only slightly moderated this influence.

Conclusion:  Although advertising impact on children’s food choices is moderate in size, it appears resilient to
parental efforts to intervene. Food advertisements directed at children may have a small but meaningful effect
on their healthy food choices. (J Pediatr”Parental encouragement to eat healthy was somewhat able to help undo the message of commercials, although the effects of parents were smaller than we had anticipated.”

For the study, Ferguson and colleagues put the children into two groups. Both groups watched two cartoon films, one after the other, with a commercial in between. In one group the commercial was for French fries, in the other group it was for apple slices with dipping sauce.

After they watched the two films and the commercial, each child was offered a coupon: they could choose either a coupon for French fries, or a coupon for apple slices with dipping sauce (thus regardless of which commercial they had watched, they all had the same choice).

While they made their choice, the children were with their parents, half of whom had been asked to remain neutral while the other half were asked to encourage their children to choose the healthy option (the apple slices).

The results showed that:

– 71% of the children who watched the French fries advert and whose parents remained neutral opted for the French fries.

– However, of those who watched the French fries advert and whose parents advised them to take the healthier option, 55% still went for the French fries, a higher figure than the researchers anticipated.

– 46% of the children who watched the advert for apple slices and whose parents remained neutral opted for the French fries.

– 33% of the children who watched the advert for apple slices and whose parents encouraged them to go for the healthier option also opted for the French fries.

Ferguson said the results showed that:

“Children were clearly influenced by the commercials they saw; however, parents are not powerless.  Parents have an advantage if they are consistent with their long-term messages about healthy eating.”

The researchers recommend that instead of banning advertisements to children, the focus should be on finding ways to promote healthier options, because, as Ferguson put it:

“Advertisement effects can work both for and against healthy eating.”

Teaching or Selling in Schools?

Eliminating advertising in schools is a crucial first step towards cutting down the clutter that floods children on a daily basis.  If there is no escape, where else can they go to get away from it all? Schools should be all about teaching students to make their own choices, not coercing them to buy things they don’t need.  Schools shouldn’t be selling children to corporations, how are they ever going to distinguish from what is fact and what is choice in school?

We need less materialism in this country, not more and to teach children that they “need” unnecessary commercial products is morally wrong.  Commercials on television are bad enough but do do it in schools is reprehensible.  House District Representative Chris Lee agrees with me as he wrote to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser:

No matter the corporate sponsor, advertising in our public schools blurs the line between education and indoctrination. Children are often too young and too impressionable to recognize the difference between the two. Public schools are the one place where children are supposed to have an unadulterated education, and we must not let that be compromised by corporate advertising just to make a quick buck.”

Dove Real Beauty

In 2004 Dove pleasantly surprised and inspired me with the launch of their newest real beauty campaign.  I was a graduating senior in high school preparing for the SAT, filling out applications and brainstorming topics to write my big essay on.  I always knew I wanted to pursue advertising but hated the effect it had on a person’s self esteem and psychological development.  I figured I would settle for nonprofit marketing work, which is where I assumed I would end up but wasn’t entirely thrilled with it.

Dove’s campaign opened my eyes to a new goal – not avoiding the Photoshoped, edited, cropped, and manipulative advertisements, but to change them.  Dove, at least in my generation, is the first company to make there mark in positive advertising towards women; displaying women of various ages, weights and ethnicities.  They also paired their campaign with advertisements and videos raising awareness of how detrimental advertising is towards women and children.

Dove shook up advertising with their 2004 campaign for real beauty.

Girls aged five worry about their body image

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I’ve read way too many articles about girls in middle school and high school almost dying of anorexia or bulimia, wanting to commit suicide or believing they are too ugly to be seen in public.  A bit extreme?  Yea, it is, but these girls were made to feel this way from there peers, environments and pressure to look a certain way… cough cough advertising.  I thought I had read the same story over and over until I stumbled across one of the same nature, but from a 5-year-old.

I began finding more and more stories of youngsters feeling insecure about there appearance from toys and things they had seen on TV.  How are parents suppose to protect there children from advertising that manipulates their views of themselves? I found and insightful article to help parents when there child is feeling insecure:

http://www.socialmoms.com/parenting-2/mommy-i%E2%80%99m-ugly-building-child%E2%80%99s-self-esteem/