ADVERTISING TOYS TO CHILDREN1. IntroductionTelevision advertising to children and particularly of toys, is an activity whi...
to be “unfair” and possibly harmful in terms of family economic decision making.There is a generalised dislike of “commerc...
very important information about the lives of their children and as data from which they canhelp their children to make se...
Print MediaAccording to the Consumers Union,19 more than 160 magazines are now targeted at children. Young people see 45% ...
The InternetAn increasing number of Web sites try to entice children and teenagers to make direct sales. Teenagers account...
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Transcript of "Advertising toys to children"

  1. 1. ADVERTISING TOYS TO CHILDREN1. IntroductionTelevision advertising to children and particularly of toys, is an activity which is oftenquestioned in all of the Member States of the Community and is, consequently, extensivelyregulated. However, it is worth noting that the questions about advertising generallyoriginate from a limited number of interest groups - the recorded level of public complaint,even in those States which have efficient and publicly known complaint procedures, areextremely low.In considering advertising of toys to children, therefore, a useful starting point is therealisation that it appears not to be a matter of great public concern and that the activity isalready hedged by extensive legal and voluntary regulation - there are, for example, 45different rules governing advertising to children in the United Kingdom which have statutoryforce. However, while the concern that does exist tends to be common among the States,the regulations are different in each of the twelve countries of the EC, in some cases verymarkedly so - giving rise to the suspicion that the subject is as yet imperfectly understood.What follows, which concerns television advertising of toys only, is intended to provide someclarification.2. The social role of toysThe social benefits to be gained from toys and the value of play are often generallyunderestimated. Academic psychologists, however, recognise that play is an essential aid tobalanced human development, It helps children develop an understanding of the world inwhich they live and, particularly when they play in groups, assists in the “socialisation” ofthe child. It is universally accepted that learning to play together is an excellent preparationfor learning to live and work together in later life.Toys, though not absolutely essential to play, nevertheless make a vital contribution byinitiating, organising and widening the significance of play. Toys and games also provideacceptable challenges to the child to begin and complete tasks, to develop physical andmental responses of value in adult life and develop cognitive ability. Toys play an importantrole in stimulating creativity. They provide children with opportunities for self expressionand allow them to learn about participation in group activities, sharing tasks and roles within. a group.Most parents are aware of the entertainment benefits of toys. They play an important partin modem family life, allowing parents tirne to deal with daily tasks and along with booksprovide a vital alternative to television. They are particularly useful for children too youngto read.... 2Finally, toy makers are proud of the educational value of their toys - Those which aredesigned with that specific purpose in mind and those which educate incidentally. This canbe as simple as a child with a doll mimicking an adult with a baby or building houses withblocks which teaches about structures. Toys also play an important role in the physicaldevelopment of children, helping children become dexterous and teaching them about thephysical qualities of different materials.All in all, toys and games are a useful, beneficial and some respects vital category of theproducts of human ingenuity. In principle, therefore, it seems right that as much informationas possible about them should be available publicly - always consistent with any specialconsideration which needs to be paid to the children themselves.3. The special characteristics of the toys business in relation to advertisingLike any other industry, the toy industry wishes to display its products to its potentialcustomers. The toy industry is, however, unique in that its customers are usually not in aposition to buy the products for themselves. Consequently advertising also needs to informparents, who will make the purchase. The fact that the potential customers are so young alsoposes some serious communications challenges for the toy industry; not least the need tocommunicate effectively with an audience which may have some difficulty understandingcomplicated written or spoken information while conveying a message to a much moresophisticated parental audience. Both groups need sufficient information to enable them toarrive at an informed decision.This communications challenge generally means that toy advertisers choose to demonstratethe toys on offer. Demonstration provides usable decision making information to bothparents and children. It is because of this that the toy industry’s marketing efforts so oftenrely principally on television. It is the most effective way of reaching children and theirparents in a way appropriate to each.In addition, toys tend to be ephemeral products. This means that far more new toys andgames are launched each year than in any other consumer goods industry. For this reason,substantial a n u a l l y recurring advertising is essential as a means of continually introducingthe industry’s innovation to its customers - who, as children, naturally expect the freshness,entertainment and excitement of new things..Partly for these reasons the Industry is also highly competitive. Advertising is an essentialmeans of making such competition effective, with the related consumer (children) benefitsof continuous innovation and inventiveness, lower consumer prices and higher product qualityand safety.Perhaps unfortunately for the public image of the industry a great deal of this competitiveeffort and therefore advertising is visibly concentrated in one time of year, in the 8 weeksor so before Christmas when as much as 70% of toy and game annual purchases (by value)are made.. . . I . . .Finally, it needs to be understood that there is a close connection in the Toy Industrybetween television advertising and distribution.reflecting the high rate of innovation.Toys and games are an uncertain business,Distributors and retailers need the assurance of theexpected effects of introducing new products through advertising to encourage them to makethe products available in their stores. In this connection, it should be remembered that in theToy Industry, for reasons of scale and rate of innovation, there is no such thing as a “testmarket” ..Advertising for toys and games therefore plays a vital role in making products physicallyavailable for the exercise of consumer choice and in international terms, breaks downnational distributive barriers - traditionally in place to protect local manufacturers.4. The nature of the perceived “problems” with toy advertisingThere are four areas which appear to generate most expressed concern and therefore a t t r a c tthe attention of those responsible for public policy.The issue of “vulnerability” of children and the moral question of early exposure to“commercial pressure”. Children are thought to be easily persuadable, which is seen
  2. 2. to be “unfair” and possibly harmful in terms of family economic decision making.There is a generalised dislike of “commercial pressure” which leads to a feeling thatchildren need to be protected from such pressure.The adult irritation caused by the concentration of television advertising around theindustry’s peak season. Toys are almost unique in being products in which adultshave limited personal interest. Repetitive advertising for such products seems to beirritating partly for this reason.The depiction of violent or aggressive behaviour in advertisements for toys has beenraised by some as an area of concern.The negotiation process in the family and the unwanted parental involvement in thisnegotiation process leading to toy purchases, particularly at Christmas time. It isundoubtedly the case that toy and game purchase requests from children force adultsinto a decision making process which some will find hard to handle and will possiblyresent..5. The perspective of the toy industryThe toy industry (which is generally staffed by people who are parents, like any otherindustry] is very sensitive to the issues related to advertising and has sought to resolve themin objective terms. To this end the Toy Manufacturers of Europe (TME), which representsthe industry at the European level, along with national toy industry associations andindividual companies have completed a programme of research and study, with the help of. . . . . .4the Universities of Utrecht and Gent, designed to help the Industry understand the advertisingissue better and to test whether its behaviour is responsible in the light of what is knownacademically about the subject. The main findings have been interesting in that they showthat many of the underlying assumptions are unsubstantiated, or must be qualified.a. VulnerabilityThe idea of “vulnerability” encompasses the notion that children, being unaware of the intentof advertising, are unfairly open to persuasion, that consequently they may become involvedin inappropriate transactions and they may be misled. Scrutiny of all of the relevant researchby the Department of Communications at the University of Gent and by Professor Goldsteinof Utrecht University suggests:i ) There is no evidence that advertising can harm children.ii) Children may be aware of “commercial intent” down to as low as the age of 3, well-within the age range within which they are entirely under the tutelage of their parentsor guardians (if they are not under such tutelage, that is an entirely different socialproblem not directly related to advertising and toys.iii) However, awareness of “commercial intent” does not appear to differentiate theinfluence of advertising for children, any more than it does for adults. Toy and gameadvertising does encourage children to want the products.iv) Children are sophisticated and critical observers of television advertising - able todecode the messages at least as well as adults - often better. Their behaviour showsthat they are also highly discriminating, often choosing toys which are not advertisedand not choosing toys which are advertised.As a matter of record, television advertising for toys often fails in its purpose -notingthat the Industry is unable to conduct test markets. There could be no greatertestimony to children’s ability to resist, to an unexpected degree, the blandishmentsof toy advertising and to make independent choices,b. Commercial pressureThe research is largely silent on this highly subjective idea - though careful study of theacademic work shows clearly that negative views of “commercial pressure” have conditioneda number of the pieces of the research in an unacademic fashion.The best way of looking at this issue is probably in the context of the entire panoply ofcommercial activity which underwrites the prosperity and living standards of westernEuropean nations. In all Member States children are born and brought up in societies forwhich successful commercial activity is a vital resource. Consequently, they are surroundedfrom first consciousness by all the external signs of this activity, which they will have tocome to understand and which eventually they will wish to exploit for their own benefit.. .5Invoivement as children in their own purchase decisions under the guidance and control ofparents or guardians may well be one of the more important pieces of education for childrengrowing up in successful industrial societies such as ours.Finally, the research does tell us that in terms of “commercial pressure” advertising isrelativelv unimportant. Research studies consistently show that television advertising ranksthird or fourth behind “playground influence”, shop windows and catalogues as the motivatorof child requests for toy and game products.C. AggressionThe TME is naturally sensitive to this issue and recently commissioned an extensive studyof all available academic research on the subject of aggression. The study, conducted byProfessor Goldstein of the University of Utrecht, showed that toys themselves do notgenerate aggressive behaviour patterns in children; where a child exhibits aggressivebehaviour in connection with a toy the aggression comes from the child, not the toy. Anypredisposition to such behaviour is the result of far more important influences, particularlythose of parents and teachers.Transposed to advertising, this conclusion indicates that what aggression there is in televisioncommercials for toys is not harmful. However, it should also be noted, in any event, thatin most Member States there are rules which minimise any “aggressive” content in televisionadvertising to children. The TME is now taking steps to ensure that these restrictions areapplied in all Member States - regardless of the state of national legislation.d. MisleadingnessThere is unquestionably a danger that children may be mislead by advertising just as adultssometimes are and this is confirmed by the research. Strict rules about allowable content,however, along the lines of the very detailed British Independent Television Commission(ITC), do appear to address this problem satisfactorily. The Toy Industry is glad to workvoluntarily within all of the ITC rules, even in countries where strict rules do not apply andthe TME is now in the process of developing some improvements to the ITC rules whichmay reduce any risk of misleadingness still further (see below).e. Irritation.Adult irritation in the face of toy commercials is certainly unfortunate but it must beremembered that these commercials are directed primarily to children who enjoy them andare not irritated. A more positive approach for adults would be to view the commercials as
  3. 3. very important information about the lives of their children and as data from which they canhelp their children to make sensible and appropriate decisions.f. Negotiation.Parents also tend to have concerns about the process of “negotiation” which takes place. . . . . .I6following child requests for advertised products. However, the research generally shows thatthis transaction usually goes quite well and if properly conducted, is valued by “both sides”.It is difficult to envisage a sustainable, in principle objection to this process, given theconsiderations already outlined - particularly those relating to the education and developmentof children in a society, one of whose chief distinguishing characteristics is energeticcommercial activity.6. The benefits of toy advertisingThere are a number of reasons why advertising is of benefit to a free society. Many of thesebenefits apply to all industries but for the toy industry five reasons stand out.z Advertising in general is a key tool of a market economy. Efficient and successfulmarket economies are based upon competition. If advertising of toys were to berestricted it would restrict companies, especially those companies seeking to enter anew territory and would reduce the efficiency of the market. This point isparticularly important when one considers the number of companies who will wishto enter new markets in other Member States after the advent of the Single Marketat the end of this year and the rate of innovation in this particular business.z It is now generally understood that competition results in lower prices and increasedquality. The Toy Industry is no exception to this general rule - economies of scalebeing particularly important in a relatively small scale business. Advertisingunderwrites vigorous competition and is therefore the consumers guarantor of valueand quality benefits in toys and games - as in other advertised product categories.z Toy t e l evi s ion adve r t i s ing i s the key de t e rminant of ma rke t ent ry and the“internationalisation” of the Toy business, noting the role television plays in gaininginitial distribution. Hence, without television advertising, the barriers to trade, or theequivalent, created by preferential distribution arrangements, which have always beencommon in western Europe, would inhibit the enlargement of consumer choice andprotect distributor margins at the expense of consumers (children).Learning to understand and interpret advertising is an important lesson which allchildren have to learn. Advertising should be seen as contributing to the “lifeeducation“ of children.Advertising enlarges consumer choice. To most people, greater choice means greaterfreedom - children (with their parents) are no exception. Advertising contributesdirectly to choice by bringing products and services to the consumers’ attention, byencouraging innovation and distribution and by lowering prices.7. Regulation of toy advertising now and in the futureThe toy industry recognises the need to establish clear guidelines for advertisers which dealBR 7satisfactorily with public concern about advertising to children. In some Member States theseexist, but in the Community as a whole, the irregularities and disparities in the regulatoryregime are dismaying and represent a weakness in the coherence and value of Europeanregulation on this subject. It is recognised that detailed regulations which take into accountall the national requirements covering advertising are very difficult to develop, but thisobstacle could be overcome. The best method would be by initial recognition by the MemberStates of each others’ national rules combined with the introduction of self regulation basedon a code of practice at least as comprehensive as the ITC code (currently the most detailedand extensive).The Community should also back and seek to obtain international recognition of this selfregulatory system. To this end the TME is currently developing its own code of practice forits members who advertise in Europe. We look forward to discussing it in detail withmembers of the European Parliament, the European Commission and other interested parties.INTRODUCTIONSeveral European countries forbid or severely curtail advertising to children; in the United States, on the other hand, selling to children is simply ―business as usual.‖1 Theaverage young person views more than 3000 ads per day on television (TV), on the Internet, on billboards, and in magazines.2 Increasingly, advertisers are targeting youngerand younger children in an effort to establish ―brand-name preference‖ at as early an age as possible.3 This targeting occurs because advertising is a $250 billion/yearindustry with 900 000 brands to sell,2 and children and adolescents are attractive consumers: teenagers spend $155 billion/year, children younger than 12 years spendanother $25 billion, and both groups influence perhaps another $200 billion of their parents spending per year.4,5 Increasingly, advertisers are seeking to find new andcreative ways of targeting young consumers via the Internet, in schools, and even in bathroom stalls. 1Previous SectionNext SectionTHE EFFECTS OF ADVERTISING ON CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTSResearch has shown that young children—younger than 8 years—are cognitively and psychologically defenseless against advertising. 6–9 They do not understand the notionof intent to sell and frequently accept advertising claims at face value.10 In fact, in the late 1970s, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) held hearings, reviewed the existingresearch, and came to the conclusion that it was unfair and deceptive to advertise to children younger than 6 years. 11 What kept the FTC from banning such ads was that itwas thought to be impractical to implement such a ban. 11 However, some Western countries have done exactly that: Sweden and Norway forbid all advertising directed atchildren younger than 12 years, Greece bans toy advertising until after 10 PM, and Denmark and Belgium severely restrict advertising aimed at children. 12Previous SectionNext SectionADVERTISING IN DIFFERENT MEDIATelevisionChildren and adolescents view 400 00 ads per year on TV alone.13 This occurs despite the fact that the Childrens Television Act of 1990 (Pub L No. 101–437) limitsadvertising on childrens programming to 10.5 minutes/hour on weekends and 12 minutes/hour on weekdays. However, much of childrens viewing occurs during primetime, which features nearly 16 minutes/hour of advertising.14 A 30-second ad during the Super Bowl now costs $2.3 million but reaches 80 million people. 15MoviesA 2000 FTC investigation found that violent movies, music, and video games have been intentionally marketed to children and adolescents. 16 Although movie theaters haveagreed not to show trailers for R-rated movies before G-rated movies in response to the release of the FTC report, children continue to see advertising for violent media inother venues. For instance, M-rated video games, which according to the gaming industrys own rating system are not recommended for children younger than 17 years, arefrequently advertised in movie theaters, video game magazines, and publications with high youth readership. 17 Also, movies targeted at children often prominently featurebrand-name products and fast food restaurants.18 In 1997–1998, 8 alcohol companies placed products in 233 motion pictures and in 1 episode or more of 181 TV series.18
  4. 4. Print MediaAccording to the Consumers Union,19 more than 160 magazines are now targeted at children. Young people see 45% more beer ads and 27% more ads for hard liquor inteen magazines than adults do in their magazines.20 Despite the Master Settlement Agreement with the tobacco industry in 1998, tobacco advertising expenditures in 38youth-oriented magazines amounted to $217 million in 2000.21The InternetAn increasing number of Web sites try to entice children and teenagers to make direct sales. Teenagers account for more than $1 billion in e-commerce dollars,22 and theindustry spent $21.6 million on Internet banner ads alone in 2002.23 More than 100 commercial Web sites promote alcohol products.23 The content of these sites varieswidely, from little more than basic brand information to chat rooms, ―virtual bars,‖ drink recipes, games, contests, and merchandise catalogues. Many of these sites use slickpromotional techniques to target young people.23,24 In 1998, the Childrens Online Privacy Protection Act (Pub L No. 105–277) was passed, which mandates thatcommercial Web sites cannot knowingly collect information from children younger than 13 years. These sites are required to provide notice on the site to parents about theircollection, use, and disclosure of childrens personal information and must obtain ―verifiable parental consent‖ before collecting, using, or disclosing this information.25Previous SectionNext SectionMARKETING TECHNIQUESAdvertisers have traditionally used techniques to which children and adolescents are more susceptible, such as product placements in movies and TV shows,26 tie-insbetween movies and fast food restaurants,18 tie-ins between TV shows and toy action figures or other products,7 kids clubs that are linked to popular shows, and celebrityendorsements.27 Cellular phones are currently being marketed to 6- to 12-year-olds, with the potential for directing specific advertisers to children and preteens. Coca-Colareportedly paid Warner Bros. Studios $150 million for the global marketing rights to the movie ―Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone,‖ 28 and nearly 20% of fast foodrestaurant ads now mention a toy premium in their ads.29 Certain tie-in products may be inappropriate for children (eg, action figures from the World Wrestling Federationor an action doll that mutters profanities from an R-ratedAustin Powers movie).Childrens advertising protections will need to be updated for digital TV, which will be in place before 2010. In the near future, children watching a TV program will be ableto click an on-screen link and go to a Web site during the program.30 Interactive games and promotions on digital TV will have the ability to lure children away from regularprogramming, encouraging them to spend a long time in an environment that lacks clear separation between content and advertising. Interactive technology may also allowadvertisers to collect vast amounts of information about childrens viewing habits and preferences and target them on the basis of that information. 31Previous SectionNext SectionSPECIFIC HEALTH-RELATED AREAS OF CONCERNTobacco AdvertisingTobacco manufacturers spend $30 million/day ($11.2 billion/year) on advertising and promotion. 32 Exposure to tobacco advertising may be a bigger risk factor than havingfamily members and peers who smoke33 and can even undermine the effect of strong parenting practices.34 Two unique and large longitudinal studies have found thatapproximately one third of all adolescent smoking can be attributed to tobacco advertising and promotions. 35,36 In addition, more than 20 studies have found that childrenexposed to cigarette ads or promotions are more likely to become smokers themselves. 37,38 Recent evidence has emerged that tobacco companies have specifically targetedteenagers as young as 13 years of age.39Alcohol AdvertisingAlcohol manufacturers spend $5.7 billion/year on advertising and promotion.40 Young people typically view 2000 beer and wine commercials annually, 41 with most of theads concentrated in sports programming. During prime time, only 1 alcohol ad appears every 4 hours; yet, in sports programming, the frequency increases to 2.4 ads perhour.42,43 Research has found that adolescent drinkers are more likely to have been exposed to alcohol advertising.44–50 Given that children begin making decisions aboutalcohol at an early age—probably during grade school50—exposure to beer commercials represents a significant risk factor.46,50 Minority children may be at particularrisk.51Drug Advertising―Just Say No‖ as a message to teenagers about drugs seems doomed to failure given that $11 billion/year is spent on cigarette advertising, $5.7 billion/year is spent onalcohol advertising, and nearly $4 billion/year is spent on prescription drug advertising. 52 Drug companies now spend more than twice as much on marketing as they do onresearch and development. The top 10 drug companies made a total profit of $35.9 billion in 2002—more than the other 490 companies in the Fortune 500 combined. 53 Issuch advertising effective? A recent survey of physicians found that 92% of patients had requested an advertised drug. 54,55 In addition, children and teenagers may get themessage that there is a drug available to cure all ills and heal all pain, a drug for every occasion (including sexual intercourse).41Food Advertising and ObesityAdvertisers spend more than $2.5 billion/year to promote restaurants and another $2 billion to promote food products.56 On TV, of the estimated 40 000 ads per year thatyoung people see, half are for food, especially sugared cereals and high-calorie snacks.29,57 Healthy foods are advertised less than 3% of the time; children rarely see a foodadvertisement for broccoli.58Increasingly, fast food conglomerates are using toy tie-ins with major childrens motion pictures to try to attract young people.INTRODUCTIONSeveral European countries forbid or severely curtail advertising to children; in the United States, on the other hand, selling to children is simply ―business as usual.‖1 Theaverage young person views more than 3000 ads per day on television (TV), on the Internet, on billboards, and in magazines. 2 Increasingly, advertisers are targeting youngerand younger children in an effort to establish ―brand-name preference‖ at as early an age as possible.3 This targeting occurs because advertising is a $250 billion/yearindustry with 900 000 brands to sell,2 and children and adolescents are attractive consumers: teenagers spend $155 billion/year, children younger than 12 years spendanother $25 billion, and both groups influence perhaps another $200 billion of their parents spending per year. 4,5 Increasingly, advertisers are seeking to find new andcreative ways of targeting young consumers via the Internet, in schools, and even in bathroom stalls. 1Previous SectionNext SectionTHE EFFECTS OF ADVERTISING ON CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTSResearch has shown that young children—younger than 8 years—are cognitively and psychologically defenseless against advertising. 6–9 They do not understand the notionof intent to sell and frequently accept advertising claims at face value. 10 In fact, in the late 1970s, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) held hearings, reviewed the existingresearch, and came to the conclusion that it was unfair and deceptive to advertise to children younger than 6 years.11 What kept the FTC from banning such ads was that itwas thought to be impractical to implement such a ban. 11 However, some Western countries have done exactly that: Sweden and Norway forbid all advertising directed atchildren younger than 12 years, Greece bans toy advertising until after 10 PM, and Denmark and Belgium severely restrict advertising aimed at children. 12Previous SectionNext SectionADVERTISING IN DIFFERENT MEDIATelevisionChildren and adolescents view 400 00 ads per year on TV alone. 13 This occurs despite the fact that the Childrens Television Act of 1990 (Pub L No. 101–437) limitsadvertising on childrens programming to 10.5 minutes/hour on weekends and 12 minutes/hour on weekdays. However, much of childrens viewing occurs during primetime, which features nearly 16 minutes/hour of advertising.14 A 30-second ad during the Super Bowl now costs $2.3 million but reaches 80 million people. 15MoviesA 2000 FTC investigation found that violent movies, music, and video games have been intentionally marketed to children and adolescents.16 Although movie theaters haveagreed not to show trailers for R-rated movies before G-rated movies in response to the release of the FTC report, children continue to see advertising for violent media inother venues. For instance, M-rated video games, which according to the gaming industrys own rating system are not recommended for children younger than 17 years, arefrequently advertised in movie theaters, video game magazines, and publications with high youth readership. 17 Also, movies targeted at children often prominently featurebrand-name products and fast food restaurants.18 In 1997–1998, 8 alcohol companies placed products in 233 motion pictures and in 1 episode or more of 181 TV series. 18Print MediaAccording to the Consumers Union,19 more than 160 magazines are now targeted at children. Young people see 45% more beer ads and 27% more ads for hard liquor inteen magazines than adults do in their magazines.20 Despite the Master Settlement Agreement with the tobacco industry in 1998, tobacco advertising expenditures in 38youth-oriented magazines amounted to $217 million in 2000.21
  5. 5. The InternetAn increasing number of Web sites try to entice children and teenagers to make direct sales. Teenagers account for more than $1 billion in e-commerce dollars,22 and theindustry spent $21.6 million on Internet banner ads alone in 2002.23 More than 100 commercial Web sites promote alcohol products.23 The content of these sites varieswidely, from little more than basic brand information to chat rooms, ―virtual bars,‖ drink recipes, games, contests, and merchandise catalogues. Many of these sites use slickpromotional techniques to target young people.23,24 In 1998, the Childrens Online Privacy Protection Act (Pub L No. 105–277) was passed, which mandates thatcommercial Web sites cannot knowingly collect information from children younger than 13 years. These sites are required to provide notice on the site to parents about theircollection, use, and disclosure of childrens personal information and must obtain ―verifiable parental consent‖ before collecting, using, or disclosing this information.25Previous SectionNext SectionMARKETING TECHNIQUESAdvertisers have traditionally used techniques to which children and adolescents are more susceptible, such as product placements in movies and TV shows,26 tie-insbetween movies and fast food restaurants,18 tie-ins between TV shows and toy action figures or other products,7 kids clubs that are linked to popular shows, and celebrityendorsements.27 Cellular phones are currently being marketed to 6- to 12-year-olds, with the potential for directing specific advertisers to children and preteens. Coca-Colareportedly paid Warner Bros. Studios $150 million for the global marketing rights to the movie ―Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone,‖28 and nearly 20% of fast foodrestaurant ads now mention a toy premium in their ads.29 Certain tie-in products may be inappropriate for children (eg, action figures from the World Wrestling Federationor an action doll that mutters profanities from an R-ratedAustin Powers movie).Childrens advertising protections will need to be updated for digital TV, which will be in place before 2010. In the near future, children watching a TV program will be ableto click an on-screen link and go to a Web site during the program.30 Interactive games and promotions on digital TV will have the ability to lure children away from regularprogramming, encouraging them to spend a long time in an environment that lacks clear separation between content and advertising. Interactive technology may also allowadvertisers to collect vast amounts of information about childrens viewing habits and preferences and target them on the basis of that information. 31Previous SectionNext SectionSPECIFIC HEALTH-RELATED AREAS OF CONCERNTobacco AdvertisingTobacco manufacturers spend $30 million/day ($11.2 billion/year) on advertising and promotion. 32 Exposure to tobacco advertising may be a bigger risk factor than havingfamily members and peers who smoke33 and can even undermine the effect of strong parenting practices.34 Two unique and large longitudinal studies have found thatapproximately one third of all adolescent smoking can be attributed to tobacco advertising and promotions. 35,36 In addition, more than 20 studies have found that childrenexposed to cigarette ads or promotions are more likely to become smokers themselves. 37,38 Recent evidence has emerged that tobacco companies have specifically targetedteenagers as young as 13 years of age.39Alcohol AdvertisingAlcohol manufacturers spend $5.7 billion/year on advertising and promotion.40 Young people typically view 2000 beer and wine commercials annually, 41 with most of theads concentrated in sports programming. During prime time, only 1 alcohol ad appears every 4 hours; yet, in sports programming, the frequency increases to 2.4 ads perhour.42,43 Research has found that adolescent drinkers are more likely to have been exposed to alcohol advertising.44–50 Given that children begin making decisions aboutalcohol at an early age—probably during grade school50—exposure to beer commercials represents a significant risk factor.46,50 Minority children may be at particularrisk.51Drug Advertising―Just Say No‖ as a message to teenagers about drugs seems doomed to failure given that $11 billion/year is spent on cigarette advertising, $5.7 billion/year is spent onalcohol advertising, and nearly $4 billion/year is spent on prescription drug advertising. 52 Drug companies now spend more than twice as much on marketing as they do onresearch and development. The top 10 drug companies made a total profit of $35.9 billion in 2002—more than the other 490 companies in the Fortune 500 combined. 53 Issuch advertising effective? A recent survey of physicians found that 92% of patients had requested an advertised drug. 54,55 In addition, children and teenagers may get themessage that there is a drug available to cure all ills and heal all pain, a drug for every occasion (including sexual intercourse).41Food Advertising and ObesityAdvertisers spend more than $2.5 billion/year to promote restaurants and another $2 billion to promote food products.56 On TV, of the estimated 40 000 ads per year thatyoung people see, half are for food, especially sugared cereals and high-calorie snacks.29,57 Healthy foods are advertised less than 3% of the time; children rarely see a foodadvertisement for broccoli.58Increasingly, fast food conglomerates are using toy tie-ins with major childrens motion pictures to try to attract young people.59 Nearly 20% offast food ads now mention a toy premium in their commercials.29 Several studies document that young children request more junk food (defined as foods with high-caloricdensity but very low nutrient density) after viewing commercials.60–63 In 1 study, the amount of TV viewed per week correlated with requests for specific foods and withcaloric intake.61 At the same time, advertising healthy foods has been shown to increase wholesome eating in children as young as 3 to 6 years of age.64Sex in AdvertisingSex is used in commercials to sell everything from beer to shampoo to cars. 65New research is showing that teenagers exposure to sexual content in the media may beresponsible for earlier onset of sexual intercourse or other sexual activities.66,67 What is increasingly apparent is the discrepancy between the abundance of advertising ofproducts for erectile dysfunction (ED) (between January and October, 2004, drug companies spent $343 million advertising Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis)68 and the lack ofadvertising for birth control products or emergency contraceptives on the major TV networks. This is despite the fact that 2 national polls have found that a majority ofAmericans favor the advertising of birth control on TV.69,70 Ads for ED drugs give children and teens inappropriate messages about sex and sexuality at a time when theyare not being taught well in school sex education programs. 71,72 Research has definitively found that giving teenagers increased access to birth control through advertisingdoes not make them sexually active at a younger age.73–80American advertising also frequently uses female models who are anorectic in appearance and, thus, may contribute to the development of a distorted body self-image andabnormal eating behaviors in young girls.79,81,82Previous SectionNext SectionADVERTISING IN SCHOOLSAdvertisers have slowly but steadily infiltrated school systems around the country. The ―3 Rs‖ have now become the ―4 Rs,‖ with the fourth R being ―retail.‖83,84 Ads arenow appearing on school buses, in gymnasiums, on book covers, and even in bathroom stalls. 85 More than 200 school districts nationwide have signed exclusive contractswith soft drink companies.86These agreements specify the number and placement of soda-vending machines, which is ironic given that schools risk losing federal subsidiesfor their free breakfast and lunch programs if they serve soda in their cafeterias. In addition, there are more than 4500 Pizza Hut chains and 3000 Taco Bell chains in schoolcafeterias around the country.87There is some good news, however. In May, 2006, the nations largest beverage distributors agreed to halt nearly all sales of sodas to public schools and sell only water,unsweetened juice, and low-fat milk in elementary and middle schools. Diet sodas would be sold only in high schools.88School advertising also appears under the guise of educational TV: Channel One. Currently available in 12 000 schools, Channel One consists of 10 minutes of current-events programming and 2 minutes of commercials. Advertisers pay $200 000 for advertising time and the opportunity to target 40% of the nations teenagers for 30seconds.89 According to a recent government report, Channel One now plays in 25% of the nations middle and high schools 81 and generates profits estimated at $100million annually.89Previous SectionNext SectionCONCLUSIONSClearly, advertising represents ―big business‖ in the United States and can have a significant effect on young people. Unlike free speech, commercial speech does not enjoythe same protections under the First Amendment of the Constitution.90 Advertisements can be restricted or even banned if there is a significant public health risk. Cigaretteadvertising and alcohol advertising would seem to fall squarely into this category, and ads for junk food could easily be restricted. 91One solution that is noncontroversial and would be easy to implement is to educate children and teenagers about the effects of advertising—media literacy. Curricula havebeen developed that teach young people to become critical viewers of media in all of its forms, including advertising. 92–94 Media education seems to be protective inmitigating harmful effects of media, including the effects of cigarette, alcohol, and food advertising

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