Australian Doctors Say Advertising is Child Abuse

We've all known advertising to be a form of mind control. Now a group of Australian doctors from The Royal Australasian College of Physicians has gone a step further saying at a conference in Canberra, it poses health risks and can make children believe junk food, alcohol and drugs are good for them. Well, if advertising made people think these things were bad for them, the industry as a whole would be pointless and commerce would collapse upon itself at a rate faster than the increasing bra size of Lindsay Lohen.

That's not to say the purpose of advertising is to perpetuate societal ills at all costs. A bit of responsible self control must factor into life's choices. A wise mother once said, "Everything in moderation." The problem with that statement is moderation becomes increasingly impossible in the face of the constant "Buy me! Buy me! You must have this now! Buy me! You're a loser if you don't buy me! Buy me now!" cacophony that gets louder every day. Consumers need a thick skin to filter advertising's onslaught and at some point the skin just isn't thick enough and cultural and peer pressure takes control.

Years ago, kids, and everyone for that matter, didn't have the media choices they do today. Without media, there was far less advertising to sift through. Of course, there was far less connection to world events. Today, media is everywhere. Much of it is a welcome connection to world events and community. But with advertisings current sole purpose of placing marketing messages in front of as many eyeballs as possible, all of these new media are now flooded with commercialism.

There's nothing inherently wrong with a marketer's desire to get their message in front of a potential customer. The problem is the cumulative effect of so many marketers with so many products placing their message across so many media that consumer simply give up and give in. Of course it's faster and simpler to just go to McDonald's than it is to go to the grocery store and cook your own meal. Of course it's cooler to drink Kettle One than it is to drink Gordon's. Who wouldn't want dinner to be fast and simple and to be perceived as cool?

In the broadest sense, capitalism could be faulted for this entire scenario. This model basically says do whatever you can do to make capital. To make capital, you have to sell stuff. To sell stuff, people have to buy stuff. For people to buy stuff, they have to be encouraged to buy. To encourage people to buy, they have to advertised to. It's a vicious circle with no clear end.

Clearly, that's a jaded and moribund viewpoint. While there's truth to it, there's also truth to the many joys of capitalistically driven advertising. Without this, we wouldn't have Beyonce using her booty to sell Pepsi. Or the Coors Twins to sell beer. Or David Beckham selling Vodaphone. Or Brad Pitt selling all kinds of stuff in Japan.

by Steve Hall    May-18-04   Click to Comment   
  

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