The Effect of Advertising On Society's Most Vulnerable Members
LeBlanc, Christopher C.
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This study focuses on advertising's latent exploitation of two groups of individuals in particular: children and people struggling with personal problems (or, more specifically, those susceptible to buying prescription drugs). These individuals are more susceptible to advertising's persuasive messages than the rest of society. Children are vastly more impressionable than adults and thus are more easily manipulated by advertisements that conjure familiar images and provide instant gratification. Meanwhile, individuals searching for solutions to personal problems are prone to exploitation from messages in drug advertising that implicitly promise solutions to these problems. Advertising that targets these two groups is rife with marketing techniques that subtly exploit those most vulnerable to exploitation, making it a practice that is both manipulative and corrupt. Advertising to children and individuals seeking help for personal problems is exploitative and ultimately harmful to society. Industries recognize these two groups not for what they truly are-highly impressionable segments of the population in need of comprehensive, unbiased advice about market decisions-but as individuals that can be carefully manipulated to produce huge profits. Children and those seeking answers to personal problems do not experience the same positive effects that advertising produces for the rest of society. For them, advertising isn't a valuable window into the product market; it's a carefully constructed lure that appeals to raw emotion and human impulse for the sake of increasing corporate profits. Eliminating advertising to these two groups altogether may be too drastic. However, the way in which certain information concerning potentially dangerous products reaches them must change. Information about dietary options for children, for instance, should come exclusively from parents, who may offer their children a wider range of healthful food options than advertisements to children currently do. By the same token, information about the risks and benefits of potentially harmful and addictive prescription drugs should come strictly from doctors, who are legally and morally bound to offer unbiased advice that accounts for all of a patient's treatment options, not from drug advertisements, which are fraught with corporate biases. Regulation measures such as these will help to ensure that advertising's negative effects on groups such as children and individuals with personal problems are minimized. Until such measures are taken to protect these vulnerable segments of the population, advertisements will continually aim to exploit them.