Online College Courses for Credit

Target Teens

Target Teens

Author: Amee Wittbrodt
  • Understand, analyze, evaluate, and use different types of print, digital, and multimodal media.
  • Critically analyze information found in electronic, print, and mass media and use a variety of these sources.
  • Gain an understanding of target marketing and paraphrase portions of the text.
  • Evaluate how and why advertisers target teenagers.
  • Analyze an opinion article and video.


This packet presents information about how advertisers target teenagers. After reading the text, students will view a video that shows an advertisement being deconstructed and read an opnion article written by a high school student. Discussion questions are provided at the end.

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Background Information

Kids and teens are a valuable market to advertisers.  Becoming more critical of marketing messages will help protect you from exploitation.

Alcohol and tobacco are two of the biggest advertising industries geared towards teens. Don’t buy it!  Become wise and see through the hype.





Advertising To Teens:

Why and How Marketers Target Kids

By Susan Carney      Feb. 23, 2007

Why do marketers love teens?  A number of reasons. They have money to burn, and the items they buy are largely “luxury” items, like clothing, electronics, and music. They make many, if not most, of their purchasing decisions independently. And they have significant influence on family purchases. Perhaps most importantly, companies know that once they have “branded” a child, he or she is likely to be a customer for life, or from “cradle to grave.”

How do they reach kids?  Everywhere. Advertising is in magazines, movies, TV shows, and on the internet. Licensed products, in the form of clothing, toys, and accessories, abound. Schools make deals with soda companies and sell naming rights to their gyms to the highest bidder. Companies glean important demographic info about kids spending habits from seemingly innocuous internet “quizzes” and “surveys”. Marketing comes at kids from all directions, twenty-four seven.

How do marketers do it?  They know how to capitalize on important teenage issues and anxieties, like body image, peer acceptance, coolness, and a need for power. They use these themes repeatedly in advertising geared towards children and teenagers. Marketers also often hone in on themes and attitudes that parents might find inappropriate or offensive, like sex or alcohol and drug use, further escalating the “coolness factor” of the product.

Why is advertising so effective?  Advertising works best when it create insecurity about something such as appearance. A successful ad convinces the viewer that they have a problem that needs fixing, and then proposes to offer the solution, which just happens to be the product they are selling. The message is that teens aren’t good enough the way they are. Many kids unwittingly buy into that message, and as a result, end up being hypercritical of themselves because we don’t fit a certain “image” that they believe is necessary for their happiness.

What's wrong with this picture?  This generation of kids is growing up in what is perhaps the most materialistic society we have ever had. They are surrounded by images of excess and the idea that buying “things” will bring them satisfaction. They are given things easily and rarely have to delay gratification. Worst of all, many of the things that are advertised to teens do not promote healthy development.

Additional Resources:

Student Opinion Article

Media Deconstructed Video


Discussion Questions

  1. Why do marketers love teens so much?
  2. T/F? Schools make deals with soda companies and sell naming rights to their gyms to the highest bidder.
  3. In your own words, how do marketers reach teenagers, and why is advertising that way so effective?
  4. T/F? Everything advertised to teens promotes a healthy liefstyle.
  5. Teens surrounded by images of excess is one reason why this generation of kids is growing up in the most materialistic society we have ever had.
  6. Read the "Student Opinion Article". Why did the Venus Razor appeal to the author?
  7. T/F? After three months of using the Venus Razor, the author was still satisfied with her purchase.
  8. T/F? After spending hundreds of dollars on beauty products without positive results, the author feels she is a victim and has been taken advantage of by the advertising industry.
  9. T/F? The author feels that ads on TV and in magazines have many negative effects on teens today.
  10. Do you agree with the author of the opinion article?  Do you feel teens are targeted?  Why or why not?
  11. Describe a time when you were influenced by media to buy something.  Were you satisfied with the purchase?
  12. Watch this video "Media Deconstructed." What point is the video making about advertisements?  What is its purpose and who is the intended audience?
  13. ASSIGNMENT: Write your own opinion article on the following topic: Do advertisements have a positive or negative effect on teenagers? Aim for 500 words minimum.