Term Paper: Controversial Television Advertising

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Controversial Television Advertising

Advertising are detrimental factors to any product and/or services' success. It has been proven that an advertisement can make or break the company for ads serve as medium in reaching wide range of audience or customer. Much has been said about the impact of advertising to the organization or companies concerned. However, there are other groups of people - those who are at the opposite end - who also receive the impact of advertising. These people are the consumers - the viewers - by whom the advertisements are addressed to.

A big percentage of the viewers and/or consumers are the children. They are, at most times, the ones who are glues on the TV screens, on the computes and even on most magazines and news papers. Because of this, it can just be expected that the children will be receiving the extreme impact when it comes to controversial advertisements being shown, aired or printed. The children are in a very vulnerable position that their psychological, emotional, sociological and intellectual state are affected with the controversial advertisements.

Controversial Advertising

With the varied advertising techniques that most companies tend to do nowadays, how can one ordinary viewer, much more the children, know if the advertisement is controversial or not? Controversial advertising can be perceived as the use of images, words and/or actions which would seem to offer a different meaning but are actually promoting some values that should be of significant concern. Good examples of controversial ads are:

The commercial of Calvin Klein Jeans wherein there are teenagers shown who are in a provocative positions (Edelson, 1995).

The objective of this commercial might be to market the jeans for the teenagers - of whatever genre, looks and styles. However, what makes this ad controversial is that it connotes the idea that it is just normal for the teenagers to be seen in such provocative positions.

The Benetton commercials with thin or very "slim" women as endorsers (Edelson, 1995).

The goal of the company in using such sexy or overly thin female endorsers is to highlight that Benetton will make the girls (who will wear the clothing line) look sexier and more attractive. However, this ads was assessed to be controversial because it promotes an idea that being overly slim is sexy and that any female - teenagers or not - should be thin to look sexy and attractive.

Another clothing company (Otto Kern) in the U.S. chose to depict a Last Supper tableau with half-nude women as product endorsers (Edelson, 1995).

This ad is considered controversial because it has presented the women wearing lesser clothing than what the accepted civilized women should wear.

It should be noted that controversial advertisement are not only those ads which connote a negative attitude or those that presents behaviors way out of the accepted norms. In fact, there are a number of advertisements wherein the product alone is already controversial in itself. Examples of which are cigarettes, condoms, alcohol and even feminine hygiene products (Schuster and Powell 1987). These are the very products are already controversial hence any form of advertising will also result to be controversial as well. These controversial products can be further categorized into (Fam, Waller and Erdogan, 2002):

Gender/Sex Related Products - these are items where "condoms, female contraceptives, male/female underwear, and feminine hygiene products" will be included

Social/Political Groups or Organizations - these are commercials highlighting about a certain "political party religious denomination, funeral service, racially extreme group, and guns and armaments"

Addictive Products - these pertains to commercials that highlights the use and/or practice of "alcohol, cigarettes and gambling")

Health and Care Products - these may include advertisement about "Charities, sexual diseases (AIDS, STD prevention), and weight loss programs

Why are these advertisements controversial in nature? These ads are perceived to be controversial because they are marketing and promoting some behaviors and items which are not normally accepted by the society. The main goal of the company is just to sell the product and earn profits despite the high probability that any possible consumer - which includes the children - will be at risk.

The Impacts of Controversial Advertising to Children

In analyzing the impacts of controversial advertisement to children, there are a number of factors to consider. It should be noted that when considering the effect of advertising on children, one must consider both the "immediate effect of making children want the advertised product and the cumulative effect of children developing general habits" (Horgan, et. al., 2001). This only means that a controversial ad may either have a long-term or a short-term effect to the children.

Impact to Child's Health

Based on records, most of the advertisements nowadays, particularly those which are targeted for children, are more on foods or food products. However, most of these food products being advertised are not good to health, or are unhealthy.

The number of ads directed at children has steadily increased over the last twenty years, and has roughly doubled since the 1970s. The number of ads aired for foods such as frozen dinners, which are typically high in fat and sodium, has more than doubled in the last twenty years." (Horgan, et. al., 2001)

Because of the increasing rates of unhealthy foods being advertised, the number of children with abnormal weight also increases. In fact, the rate of obesity in children increased up to three times during the same period when the number of unhealthy diet commercials were advertised. Because of this, it can be easily concluded that controversial ads such as this (i.e. unhealthy diet and lifestyle) can lead "lead otherwise healthy children to develop unhealthful eating habits and become overweight and already overweight children to further exacerbate their weight problem" (Horgan, et. al., 2001).

Unfavorable advertisements also affect children's preference to food in a sense that "the influence of ads for unhealthful foods seems to be stronger than the influence of ads for healthful foods." Because the advertisements of unhealthful foods seem to be more appealing than the healthful foods, it has been revealed that more and more children do prefer having candies, chocolates and sodas as part of their diet, and eating on fast food restaurants or having instant noodles as part of their lifestyle (Horgan, et. al., 2001).

Studies have found that commercials not only influence children to eat more of the foods that they do not need, but also cause them to eat less of the foods that they do need. A study that showed one group of children ads for fruit and fruit juice and another group of children ads for candy and Kool-Aid found a significant correlation between the ads the children watched and their food and drink choices. Another study indicated that viewing ads for unhealthful foods may lead children to eat fewer fruits and vegetables" (Horgan, et. al., 2001).

Impact to Children's Materialistic Nature

With the high rate of advertisements and an equally high amount of time spent by the children watching TVs, a study just disclosed "commercials aimed at children also influence children to be more materialistic" (Horgan, et. al., 2001). Children who tend to absorb more advertisements tend to ask and/or beg for their parents to buy them the items being advertised. The higher the frequency of ads for a certain item (such as toy, clothes, etc.) the more the children wants to have such item. More so, if the parents deny their kids for such request, they tend to become upset and would be angry to their parents. Hence, controversial advertisements not only enhance the children's tendency to become materialistic but it also changes the children's behavior thereby affecting even their values.

Impacts to Reinforcement of Racial Stereotypes

It was noted that the advertisements which are focused to children are proven to also have significant effect… [END OF PREVIEW]

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