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THEME for October

Advertising targeted at Teens

We’re bombarded by media messages 24/7  ~  through television, radio, the Internet, magazines, newspapers, movies, school, public areas and on public transit.

The media is everywhere and it informs us about how to dress, look, eat and interact. Media also impacts how we view each other, our gender roles and what we define as normal social behaviour.

Advertising aimed at youth is intended to shape their values, ethics and decision-making in order to sell a product. The goal is to build life-long, loyal customers. Like no generation before them, today’s youth are raised in a media-rich environment.  In fact,  we’ve grown so comfortable with it, we fail to take a good hard look at what it’s really saying to us. We fail to make the connection between advertising and action - buying the product.....desiring the image portrayed...needing the product to be acceptable, sexy, fun....

Media images affect impressionable young people by selling them unhealthy and unrealistic messages. Advertising glamorizes the use of alcohol and tobacco while diminishing their harmful effects on health. Other unhealthy messages concern body weight – the need for young women to be pencil thin and young men to be buff or muscular. Messages that aare routinely directed at youth through products meant to convince them they are essentially  "not OK."

Advertisers use many different techniques to inform and persuade consumers to purchase their product.  Techniques such as humor, lies, flattery, testimonials, beautiful people, symbols, hype, fear, and of course repetition (creating branding or top-of mind-awareness in a consumer).  They use different techniques to target young people on the Internet.  Techniques such as:  1) eliciting information through prizes, games and surveys 2) tracking internet activity, 3) designing personalized advertising  4) designing advertising environments to capture children's attention.

Analyzing Advertisements

1. What audience is the ad trying to reach? Who are they targeting?

2.  What kind of images, texts and sounds are being used? 

3. What product is being sold?  Do the images presented have anything to do with the product?

4. What promises are implied by the product? What will it do for you or give you, that you don’t have now?

5. What kind of lifestyle is presented?  Is it glamorized?  How?

6. How does the ad make you feel? What values are portrayed? What kind of lifestyle is depicted?

7. Is the ad sending a healthy or unhealthy message? On what do you base your answer?

Write a news, opinion or profile article for SNN on "Advertising targetted on Teens. Research the issue using websites listed below or others.  Check the SNN archives and Search feature for articles written by SNN writers.

Here are some ideas you can use to help you develop your story:

1.TV Ads:  Either by yourself or with a group of friends, choose two-three shows to watch on TV.  It can be your favourite show, MuchMusic, Game show, etc.  Write down what ads appear during commercial breaks and analyze them using the tips above.  Identify social and psychological pressures and enticements used in the ads.

2.Count the ads you see or hear for an entire day.  From the time you wake up in the morning to the time you go to bed.  In all media forms: television, radio, the Internet, magazines, newspapers, in your home and school, public areas and on public transit.  How many ads have you seen in one day?  What do you think about the mass amount of advertising that surrounds you?  Do you think it affects how you think, how you act, how you dress?  

3. Check out magazines, billboards, public transit ads and TV ads related to tobacco and alcohol. What social pressures and enticements are used in ads?  What techniques are used?  What are the consequences of these ads to young people?

4. If ads geared towards young people are of concern, what can you, and society as a whole, do?

5. Young people are on the Internet every day. Check out popular websites visited by young people:  MuchMusic, Disney, Crayola, Nintendo  or websites of popular product lines such as:  Nabisco, Kellogg, Pepsi.  What activities do they have that will provide them with information about you - games, surveys, contest?  Do they have advertisements?  What kind? 

5.Discuss how you and your friends feel about ads that confuse young people on how they should look?

For additional information, visit:

Media Watch
Ad Busters
Concerned Children's Advertisers
Media Awareness Network
CBC Report: Marketing to Teens: A Captive Audience?
Media Literacy Clearinghouse
New Mexico Media Literacy Tips on deconstructing media messages
American Academy of Pediatrics
Northwest Media Literacy Center
Planetree Health Resource Center



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