media darling

a personal record of how different forms of media and their content affect me (a college student)

advertising alcohol November 6, 2008

Filed under: advertisements — katie @ 11:41 am
Tags: , , , ,

What does the media tell us about alcohol? That it’s sexy and glamorous. That hot people drink it or drinking it makes one more attractive. That good things only come from drinking it. That there isn’t much responsibility that goes along with drinking it…etc.

I raise the question of whether it is ethically responsible to show alcohol ads on TV when people under 21 are obviously viewing them, and the ads are definitely having an influence on their attitudes about alcohol.

Many would argue that publishing racist, sexist or anti-Semitic ads would inflict harm on the public because of the hurt and influence they can have on people. Not publishing these ads is the ethical thing to do, but these ads with their potential harm are no different than many other ads that in circulation today. The alcohol and tobacco industries are incredibly lucrative businesses – definitely credited to the amount of advertising they do in print media and broadcast outlets, and I don’t anyone would argue that these products are not harmful.

Alcohol ads are constantly broadcast on television networks, and people under 21 are often exposed to behavior-influencing content through a countless number of ads. There have been many studies and content analyses examining whether exposure to alcohol ads increases young people’s tendencies to drink alcohol. In a study from 2004 titled Alcohol Advertising Exposure and Perceptions: Links with Alcohol Expectancies and Intentions to Drink or Drinking in Underaged Youth and Young Adults, researchers Kenneth Fleming, Esther Thorson, and Charles Atkin found the following results.

Alcohol advertising is influential in shaping young people’s attitudes and perceptions about alcohol advertising messages. The attitudes and perceptions predicted both positive expectancies and intentions to drink of those under the legal drinking age…Positive expectancies are powerful predictors of intentions to drink and consumption for both groups. The effects of alcohol advertising on intentions to drink of those aged 15 to 20 years are mediated by cognitive responses to advertising messages and positive expectancies. (Fleming, Thorson, Atkin)

Alcohol advertisements do not only influence young people to drink, but also have an effect on legal-drinking-aged people to want to drink (Fleming, Thorson, Atkin). Alcohol is abused in the United States far too much, and all the advertising supporting its consumption makes people drink, often without considering the dangerous side effects.

Drunk driving is still a prevalent issue, regardless of laws and the dangers, and alcohol-related deaths are high in numbers. With these facts in mind, should it be argued that all alcohol-related advertisements be pulled from the media? It is not plausible to prevent the publishing of alcohol advertisements, because although they debatably inflict harm on viewers, alcohol companies are protected by the First Amendment to advertise their product.

It should be kept in mind how much advertising can influence people’s behaviors and attitudes, and that sometimes they are nearly irresponsible.

Look how fun drinking is!

Look how fun drinking is!


Gardasil campaign pushes it’s product September 30, 2008

Filed under: advertisements — katie @ 11:27 pm
Tags: , , , ,

The huge push for young women to get the Gardasil shot has gotten out of control, in my opinion. I think it’s totally worth a woman’s choice to get vaccinated if they want to protect themselves from the many strains of HPV, but the guilt-tripping commercials on TV that tells girls it is irresponsible and life-threatening to not get the vaccine are over-the-top. Gardasil is a solid product and I’m not at all discrediting it’s use or benefits, however the overblown marketing makes it seem like it is absolutely necessary for all females to get.

I have not gotten the vaccine, so obviously I am biased, but I’m not entirely against getting it – I just need more information and better reasons for getting it as of now.

On one hand, the new drug may help prevent the human papilloma virus, a group of more than 100 viruses, some of which are associated with certain types of cancer. Young women and pre-teenage girls are being influenced to receive the HPV shot as highly effective in prevention of persistent HPV infections, including the types of HPV that cause genital warts – the most common and rampant STD on many college campuses, including UConn, according to Student Health Services.

On the other hand, holistic health practitioners and parents are increasingly wary of giving vaccines at all. Gardasil, in particular, is recommended for girls as young as 9-years-old (and up to 26-years-old), with the idea that they have not yet become sexually active. The National Cancer Institute Web site states “almost all women will have HPV infections at some point, but very few will develop cervical cancer. The immune system of most women will usually suppress or eliminate HPVs.”

At this point, medical science cannot figure out which women who have HPV are the ones that will most likely progress to cancer, so preventing HPV infection in all women is recommended, but it is a good idea to put an extremely potent vaccine in our bodies if we don’t necessarily need it?

Cervical cancer is a timely concern for all women, however the National Cancer Institute’s online statistics show that few women actually do contract it from the multiple strains of HPV. With these statistics in mind, the pressures and even recent demands in some states, like Texas being put on girls to receive the vaccine can be questioned.

My friend Gina and I talked about the Gardasil shot. She hasn’t received it either and said that “parents and young women see one heart-wrenching advertisement after the other that uses inflated statistics as scare tactics to pressure them into having their daughters or themselves vaccinated, so that they can be ‘One Less’ to contract cervical cancer.”

“One Less” is the Gardasil campaign slogan that encourages females who are eligible for the vaccine to begin their vaccination series.

This is one of the Gardasil, “One Less” commercials that have aired.

This might sound strong, but I feel like the drug companies are brainwashing people into thinking that they’re going to die in six months if they don’t get whatever the newest thing is to stay healthy. If girls have safe sex and yearly gynecological exams, I don’t believe that they need to get the vaccine, but the media are making many feel differently.

There have been several negative reactions reported to Gardasil, and the set of three shots included in the vaccine cost almost $400. With the millions of women becoming “One Less,” no wonder the company has enough money to put out more and more tear-jerking commercials. Also, it is so new, that we really don’t know of any long-term side effects yet.

The Cultivation Theory of mass communications states that society’s perceptions of reality are cultivated by what is watched on television. This theory may be proving its effects if the numbers of girls receiving the Gardasil vaccine (which is arguably unnecessary) keeps rising.

Men are carriers of the human papilloma virus, yet there is no such vaccine for them so far and there is little talk of men being required to get vaccinated. Men can infect their sexual partners with it, and many are not aware that they are carriers. Is this even remotely fair that young girls are required to get the vaccine in some states, but the actual carriers (males) of the virus are not?


up in smoke September 24, 2008

Filed under: advertisements — katie @ 8:47 pm
Tags: , , ,

Although smoking is not nearly as popular as it was, say, 50 years ago, it is still a vice of millions – if not billions of people today. As a non-smoker and someone very against smoking, I was quite concerned when I came to a realization that there are not nearly as many anti-smoking ads as there are smoking or cigarette promotion ads in the media. What I mean by smoking ads are various advertisements I noticed in a few women’s magazines I was flipping through recently. Obviously there aren’t smoking ads on TV or radio due to the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act, but there are plenty to make up for that in other media forms such as magazines, billboards and controversially – the Internet.

Just by flipping through a few magazines, I saw probably around ten different cigarette ads or an ad with someone smoking in it. There is one anti-smoking ad that I can remember seeing, but I’m hopeful that there were a couple more that I just didn’t see or don’t recall. The one ad that I remember was one of the “truth” ads, which are great ads and I support the campaign to its fullest, but if their ads are so vastly outnumbered by tobacco/smoking-promoting ads, particularly in magazines, what good are they doing?

This is one of the older “the truth” ads but its definitely one that leaves a lasting image:

As an experiment, I googled “smoking ads” and got 3,020,000 hits, and then googled “anti-smoking ads” and got 321,000 hits. This is sickening! There are well over two million more smoking ads, or information about smoking ads, on the Internet than anti-smoking ads. I realize that cigarette companies are just doing business and looking to make money just like any other company, but its sad because smoking is so life threatening and the constant exposure to it makes people, especially teens, less aware of its consequences because of their want to feel cool.