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PUBLISHED: 4:15 PM on Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Floyd Dryded Voices: Advertising: Information or Manipulation?
Who needs flawless skin, full heads of hair, or bodies proportional to a Barbie Doll? Nobody did, until the products that could make you that way were advertised. Advertising's main goal is to inform; whether or not it does it appropriately is completely up to the advertiser. Advertising also persuades, by playing with your emotions and appealing to the need of belonging. As advertising grew over the years, the criticism for it did as well.

People started to question whether or not the ads their families were viewing were actually appropriate. Could a mere commercial or ad be dangerous? The sheer volume of advertising is completely staggering. The "brought to you by" at sporting events or concerts are advertisers. They pay for the spokesperson to say their company's name and product, and then their "amazing" product is suddenly a household name. I think Americans are too overwhelmed by the latest and greatest invention. We need to lower advertisements by at least forty percent.

Most important of all, kids are being affected. As an example, I was babysitting. My friend and I were watching her favorite show on Disney Channel: Hannah Montana. A commercial came on, and I stared at the screen in shock; in between two segments of a children's show, there was a commercial advertising Enzyte! I knew this could not be appropriate, and when she asked me what it was, I was dumbfounded. How was I supposed to answer that? Furthermore, children by the age of seven are exposed to commercials like these at least twenty thousand times. Even though doctors and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) say that kids shouldn't have any "screen time", kids are just sitting around. Research has shown that children who regularly spend more than four hours a day watching television are likely to be overweight. Research also says that those kids, later in life, are trying to lose the weight and look like the models on television or in magazines-Advertisements. Also, advertisers use children and teen role models to advertise their products. The bigger the star, the more teens are going to look up to them. My friend looks up to Hannah Montana as a role model; what if, hypothetically, she was one advertising Enztye, or some other bad product. My friend would want them, and that isn't right, even though most kids are thinking of it that way. We should lower advertisements for our future generation's sake.

Second, Advertising costs too much for the average small business to handle. Statistics show that the United States spend two hundred billion on advertising in 1998, but they spend over twenty billion less only a year before. If we lower advertisements by at least forty percent, companies could spend almost one hundred billion dollars on something else than a 30-40 second advertisement. I talked to a small business owner, who would prefer to remain anonymous. When the topic of cost came up, they had this to say: "Advertising costs too much for my shop to put out each month. Most shops in this town can't afford all of those flashing colors and lights for a 50-50 chance we'll actually get more customers. It's too much of a hassle, not to mention a burden. Plus, even if we did, we would only be able to run it a few times."

You see? Advertising is potentially harmful, even if it isn't to our children or ourselves. To put a 30 second advertisement on-air could put a business head over heels in problems they don't need. Not to mention, as the small business owner I talked to stated, "...it's a 50-50 chance." You could get more customers, or you couldn't get any at all. Large businesses like Wal-Mart or McDonalds can afford to run their commercials millions of times, and on a bunch of different channels. The difference between them and the small businesses is that the larger ones can afford it; the smaller ones can't. We should lower advertisements by at least forty percent for the small businesses in the United States.

Finally, advertisements are overwhelming Americans. If a seven-year-old watches twenty thousand commercials, what kind of an example are we setting? The average household receives thirty-four pounds of advertisements by mail each year. That's a total of 4.5 million tons of advertisements by mail per year! They are ruining our society. Everywhere we look, everywhere we turn, everywhere we click-Advertisements. In addition, alcohol ads on TV have actually increased over the last few years. A recent study conducted by the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth found that the top 15 programs in 2003 had alcohol in their ads. That is a wrong example to be setting for our next generation of voters, politicians, doctors, and the future generation of America. Advertising isn't all bad, but what is should be limited. This is only the third of many reasons why we should lower advertising.

Advertisements need to be lowered-Plain and Simple. They are hurting the future generation, spending America's money, and overwhelming our free country. Nobody but us can fix this problem, even if it is one that is hardly noticed. Sometimes you can forget that the advertisers are shoving their products in your face over and over again. Advertising, is it informative? No. It's manipulative.


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