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.
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.