Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Advertising is a mirror. Think about it.

     Does advertising influence or reflect the culture of teenagers? This question is the chicken or the egg of nerds (no offense, ROGATE 7).  Although it’s rather debatable, the most reasonable and supported answer to this never-ending cycle of questions is that advertising reflects the culture of teenagers.  Mimicking the way people act and go about in their daily lives is one of the keys to efficient advertising.  When people can relate to something, they feel as if they could appreciate it more.  Advertising is almost like a mirror: it reflects and bounces back the culture of teenagers.

     To me, it seems that the American teenager has the same basis of a dream life: perfect love life, good-looking peers, and freedom.  If you simply sit down in front of a TV, I can guarantee that you will find at least ten different commercials that have at least one of the traits stated above.  Of course, if commercials were to step out of that block of the teenage dream, the consumers might feel uneasy about it.  It would be much more difficult to look at a commercial outside of the dream box and say that is the kind of life a teenager would want.  For example, if teenagers enjoy freedom and being able to rebel against the laws and rules of their elders, a commercial that features teenagers obeying the laws and rules of their elders may not necessarily appeal to the target viewers.  In order to be able to capture the attention of teenagers, advertisements would have to reflect teen culture by showing them the teenager’s dream life.  As said in an article on the topic of whether advertising reflects or influences teen culture, “Sporting goods often appeal to our desire to be better versions of ourselves, jewelry advertisements appeal to women’s desire for a Cinderella story and even men today are not spared from such emotional appeals”.  This article is suggesting that when we see our dream life used in a commercial, it is hard to say no to the offer.  When you see something you like, you look at that thing first, no?    

     Possessing the ability to be able to relate to something is indeed one of the greatest feelings on earth.  Relations are one of the most common ways to make friends and connections.  Likewise, when anybody on earth sees a commercial they can relate to, they feel as if they have a special connection to that commercial.  Seeing something you can relate to will bring out some sort of appreciation for it.  For instance, when one hears a story of which they share a similar trait or thought with a character, their brain somehow feels compelled to enjoy the story.  Likewise, in commercials, they may feature an identical problem to a common obstacle found in a teenager’s life.  In commercials and advertisements for an acne treatment, it may show a being whose life happiness has been limited slightly due to having blemishes on his or her face.  When teenagers recognize a problem of which they can relate to, they realize that the item being sold may help them with their troubles.  Perhaps that is why so many commercials feature a task that needs to be done.

     If there is anything to catch the attention of a teenager, it would be romantic drama.  Drama containing love and break-ups is the height of teenage interest.  Some product companies were clever enough to actually use that interest as an advantage.  Currently, the Mike and Ike candy company is holding an event, of which the names of the candy are “breaking up”.  The Mike and Ike candy boxes feature one of the two names scribbled out.  The candy company even created blogs and Tumblr accounts for the two personas.  Perhaps the commercials containing the words “breaking” and “up” caused a few teens to pick up a box next time they go out to a store.  The Barbie company performed a similar act a few years prior to the Mike and Ike love fiasco.  Barbie, the doll, apparently broke up with her male doll counterpart, Ken.  The company created some drama, stating the two had simply “grown apart”.  Although the Barbie company did not necessarily make the break-up as large as Mike and Ike’s, I’m sure it certainly did make a few pre-teens pick up a brand new Barbie doll.

     Advertising has a great impact on life, but what makes that impact is the influence teenage culture has on companies and sellers.  Teenage culture is easy to see and plain to the eye, so it is shown that advertising has taken advantage of that easy-to-see culture by reflecting it back at the consumers.  Many companies have shown to use techniques to catch its viewers, techniques that end up reflecting a teenager’s dreams, interests, and problems right back at them.  Take a few minutes of your day and watch a few advertisements.  I guarantee that you will find at least five examples of advertising acting as a mirror to teen culture.

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