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Controversial Television Advertising

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Controversial television advertising is an effective tactic businesses use to boost revenue, without realizing its effect on the public. Is this strategy necessary for companies to attract viewers? Can companies still receive the same amount of profit without the need of such offensive material?

Television has made a huge impact on consumers since it was first introduced in the 1950s. Of course, back then material being advertised was not as it is today. Now, at 58 years later, the products and materials that are currently being aired can be considered offensive, and on the verge of being considered explicit.

Topics that most consumers find to be controversial are alcohol, tobacco, politics and sexual content. All those, with the exclusion of politics, lead to the same case. Consumers observe these advertisements and come to one of two conclusions. (1) Consumers, regardless of age or gender, view the advertisements and become more prone to purchase or try the product that was seen. (2) Consumers view the advertisement and either disregard it, or become angered or upset. Imagine watching a program with ones family and seeing an advertisement so intrusive that it could cause an upset during what innocently started by watching television. Families with children should not have to worry about what may be seen when watching television, especially not commercials. How embarrassing it must be to explain to children what they are seeing during commercials! Every parent tries to avoid “the talk” with his or her children to some degree. It is much harder to do nowadays when their children are seeing products containing sexual content.

Sexual content is a major issue affecting families worldwide. Even though the ads claim the promotion of safe sex, is it safe that these ads are being aired? Condom companies have long run risquÐ"© commercials. Just because what they consider a “safe” or “educational” way to exploit their product does not mean that there are consequences that follow. Younger generations become curious and engage in sexual experimentation. This also leads to higher teen pregnancies, high school dropouts and even abortions.

As previously stated, the viewing of these ads can cause consumers to try what is being viewed. For most, that may not be a threat. However, it can pose a potential threat to younger audiences. With many television viewers consisting of teens and young children, would it be fair to say that what they are seeing could possibly be corrupting them? Alcohol, for instance, even though not directed at a younger viewing audience, still affects them in some way. Even though there are state and federal regulations that prohibit the sale or consumption of such items to under-aged consumers, that still does not mean that there are ways it can be obtained. A perfect example would be a young child seeing a commercial for a new toy they are wanting. Depending on the parent, they may or may not purchase the item for their child, maybe because they feel it may be unsafe or their child just may not need it. Now, think of a teenager seeing an alcohol ad. Of course, a teenager will not ask their parents to buy them alcohol, so one way or another he or she will find other means to obtain the beverage of choice. From there, different statistics become affected, increased numbers in alcohol related deaths and not to mention drunk driving related accidents.

In a recent study from American Journal of Public Health (2007), compares the rates of smokers to non-smokers after completing high school and the affects advertising played in those causes.

Twenty-five percent of participants who had never smoked prior to completing high school went on to try their first cigarette in the following year. Among participants who had ever smoked, 39% progressed to a more advanced smoking habit after 12th grade. Never smokers who were current alcohol users in 12th grade were twice as likely than others to initiate smoking. This suggests that risk for later smoking is increased among nonsmoking students who drink alcohol. This observation might be attributable to the social environment in which drinking and smoking take place and to the increasing influence of peers in alcohol and tobacco use over time. Not attending college brought about more intense and frequent smoking, possibly because of increased tobacco advertising directed to this population and difficulties reaching young adults with smoking prevention and intervention messages when they are not in school. (American Journal of Public Health, 2008)

Tobacco ads also run along the same lines. Even though these ads are rarely seen anymore, the result of contribution to tobacco consumption is literally deadly. With consumers starting smoking at younger ages, their risk of cancer, emphysema, and heart disease are much higher. Considering tobacco companies are among the highest of issues that are controversial, it would be only fair to divulge the revenue they make. Phillip Morris USA (2008) states that in “2006 net revenue was approximately $18.5 billion.”

To be fair, not all advertising is for the bad. Unbelievably, some advertisements are for the good, and even educational at that. Many companies advertise and fight against each of these issues. One of the most highly publicized of these companies is The Truth (2008) and their philosophy is not an anti-smoker or pro-smoker. It truly does not have anything thing to do with smoking. “It’s about an industry manipulating its products, facts and advertising to secure replacements for the 1200 customers the “lose” every day. You know, because they die”. The company’s main objective is to ensure everyone understands and knows tobacco facts. “In fact, some of the people who work with truthÐ'® are smokers. They are trying to quit. However, it is hard. They are addicted. Therefore, they know better than anybody does just how manipulative the tobacco industry can be. Bottom line: Smoker. Non-smoker. Non-issue.”



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