Teenagers have been a focus for marketers for over 100 years. At the rise of the twentieth century, mass media became widely recognized and children were increasingly targeted. In a period of inconceivable availability, teens have entry to more media outlets than ever before. Media is the number one source for advertising. Advertising is ‘a manipulative enterprise that uses subtle techniques to persuade consumers into accepting whatever sales pitch [that is] presented to them. Such techniques [are] used in all advertising, but [can] be especially powerful when directed at’ teenagers (Blades, Oates, Blumberg 3). The power of advertising may greatly influence a teenager’s cognitive ability to make wise choices, view of their body image, and capability to withstand the pressures of conforming to social trends.
Duplicity is vital in marketing and through the use of stratagems; advertising may influence lifestyle choices for teens. The effective instrument of subliminal informing is utilized to distort our perspective of an advertisement, leaving viewers with a deceptive message. This trap can be hidden in just about anything that is picture based, such as advertisements for food and alcohol. ‘Teenage viewers in the United States are exposed to about 5,500 food commercials annually; however, most foods advertised are rather unhealthy; that is, high in sugar, fat and salt’ (Gwozdz, Reisch). A United States study found that ’49 percent of ads were for food, of which 91 percent were for foods or beverages containing high levels of fat, sodium, or added sugars or that were low in nutrients’ (Blades, Oates, Blumberg 56). Exposure to unhealthy food advertisements will likely lead to unhealthy food choices, potentially causing obesity in teens. ‘Increasing research evidence exists to show that exposure to food advertising alters brand and food preferences, increases food intake, and results in a greater number of requests for the advertised products’ (Blades, Oates, Blumberg 50). The desire or craving for unhealthy food has caused the pervasiveness of obesity in teenagers to increase rapidly. ‘In the United Kingdom, prevalence has risen to the extent that obesity is now the most common disorder of teenagers’ (Blades, Oates, Blumberg 50). On the other hand, advertisers argue that advertising alone does not effect or influence a teen’s choice in food. They promote that there are many other confounding variables such as socioeconomic status, familial tendency to overweightness, gender, ethnicity, and levels of physical activity that should be accounted for. Research shows that ‘growing up in a poor socioeconomic status household is positively associated with an increased risk of obesity in adulthood’ (Blades, Oates, Blumberg 51). Advertisement supporters also suppose that teenagers are old enough to know what is a healthy choice and what is not. Teens are typically ‘rather critical and suspicious of advertising in general’ so food advertisements should not phase them (Gwozdz, Reisch). Besides the marketing of unhealthy food choices, there is developing worry about issues of alcohol abuse and misuse among teens due to promotional advertisements. ‘Alcohol advertising can influence positive perceptions of drinking and pro-drinking attitudes that may, in turn, increase the probability that young people will consume alcoholic beverages’ (Blades, Oates, Blumberg 74). Publicists make alcohol consumption seem appealing and enjoyable. An example of this phenomenon has been the popularity among teenagers of a new range of ‘vodka gummy bears’ and other ‘designer drinks’. Another concern is ‘that the packaging styles used with these brands hold special appeal to underage consumers, [furthering the] position that these new designer drinks, characterized by sweet, fruity flavors, overcome the traditional taste barrier to early alcohol consumption and may encourage underage drinkers to start drinking earlier’ (Blades, Oates, Blumberg 73). After all ages share in viewing the eminent Super Bowl advertisements every year, ‘those brands which the most advertising revenue was spent were also the more popular and the most likely to be among the brands adolescents said they would most like to drink’ (Blades, Oates, Blumberg 86). Concern about adolescents drinking is additionally fuelled by confirmation that they encounter damaging side effects related with alcohol utilization. On the contrary, supporters of alcohol advertising to all ages allege that advertising does not influence the choice nor does it trigger the desire of teens to consume alcohol. But rather, sources such as ‘parental and peer-group influences can play their part in shaping [teen’s] alcohol consumption’ (Blades, Oates, Blumberg 73). Generally speaking, most teens have a physiological desire already in place.
Advertising also can greatly impact a teen’s perspective of their body image. Numerous young adults are victimized by the demanding messages in the public eye, constraining them to adjust to a certain archetypal of what is viewed as “attractive”. The ‘perception of the tall, thin, and toned ideal for women and the medium-sized, muscular ideal for men’ is what society views as a model type (Eickhoff-Shemek, Kelly-Vance, Rabak-Wagener 29). False and edited images like these can bring about numerous real concerns for the physical and mental prosperity of an individual. ‘It has been estimated that up to two thirds of young women and one third of young men experience significant dissatisfaction with their body size, shape, condition, or appearance’ (Eickhoff-Shemek, Kelly-Vance, Rabak-Wagener 29). This dissatisfaction comes from unrealistic images placed before them in the media. Television and magazines advertisements are among many that endorse an unachievable beauty; however, it does not stop teens from trying. In fact, ‘70% of teenage women who regularly read fashion magazines in their study considered the magazines an important source of beauty and fitness information. Nearly one fourth of those girls reported a strong interest in emulating fashion models’ (Eickhoff-Shemek, Kelly-Vance, Rabak-Wagener 29). Contrastingly, supporters of advertisement deem that teenagers are able to distinguish between the value of media images and their own self-image. By the teenage years, teens have ‘an understanding of the persuasive intent of advertising and therefore will be more able to critically evaluate advertisements’ rather than taking the message to heart (Blades, Oates, Blumberg 18). Age appears to correlate with the ability to comprehend the truthfulness of advertisements. Teens ‘are able to analyze the creative content and identify some promotion tactics’ (Blades, Oates, Blumberg 104). Subsequently, if teens do not view advertisements literally, then that will result in a superior point of view of their self-image.
Social trends may significantly impact teenagers and their self-esteem. ‘Tremendous buying power makes teenagers a significant segment of the consumer market, and marketing experts almost unanimously agree that teens are an impressionable group that has money to burn, in that they typically have no rent, no heavy bills and no one else to buy things for except themselves’ (Thakkar, Weisfeld-Spolter). Teenagers are compelled to wear, act, and dress in specific ways, which are regularly unattainable or unreasonably demonstrated to them by actors or models in ads. Individuals get a kind of personal fulfillment when it comes to purchasing certain items. Teens feel this satisfaction when it comes to purchasing items that are known as “popular” and “cool”. Apple products have been prevailing in the business sector for so long because they are considered ‘trendy’. With their notorious iPods, IPhones, MacBooks, and IPads, they take the hearts of the youth from both their functions and name brand alone. When a brand gets to be prominent, individuals will purchase nearly anything from them. Youth are constantly being showered with advertisements that let them know what is cool and what is not; however, this can be detrimental to them self-esteem. ‘In the early stages of identity development, self-presentation and conformity to the peer group or subculture are extremely important’ (Blades, Oates, Blumberg 142). Teenagers feel an extra pressure to be dressed well so that their peers accept them. The progression of embarrassment or shame can subjugate a young person prompting the feeling of disparity. The mass media today makes trends always come and go just like that. In the end, social trends are a means to fit in and it is hard for a teenager to stay aware of the endless trends. Adversely, researchers have found that advertisement does not play as big of role in trends as many think. Rather than being influenced by models or celebrities in ads, teenagers tend to feel more pressure to be dressed well so that their peers will accept them. When a female teen was interviewed she responded, ‘I will never call my friends after seeing an ad on TV or in a magazine and say ‘did you see what they are wearing in that?’ Because it is not real’ But, if it is unposed for a picture, I am more likely to consider it a fashion I would try’ (Thakkar, Weisfeld-Spolter). Teens are interested in the trends and fashion that target them effectively, not sources that endorse unattainable images.
Advertisers use various media outlets such as television, radio, magazines, social media, and so forth to impact teenagers. Advertisements may constrain the pride of teens by implementing the idea that they must satisfy an unrealistic perception for young adults. I accept that advertisers are nothing short of harmful to teenage viewers. Teens are still in the formative phases of life and therefore are easily influenced. With many negative images and influences being thrown at them, it is hard for teenagers to process and weed out the positive from the negative. Therefore, I find it crucial as adolescent consumers to be mindful of the impact that the media subliminally has on us, in order to remain intelligent and informed.