When In Doubt Blame Advertising

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No matter what ails you, no matter what is troubling you, no matter what undesirable set of circumstances you find yourself in, you can take refuge in the fact that no matter what you may have done to put yourself in said predicament, there is always advertising to blame.

While that statement may sound somewhat bombastic, there are those among us who do in fact lay the blame of much of what afflicts society directly at the feet of advertising. I wrote about this very topic in a column for Ad Week last December entitled You Better Not Pout, Kids. Ads Are to Blame. In the piece I referenced a survey which saw one-third of consumers blaming ad agencies and advertising in general for the “current economic crisis because they encouraged people to buy things they couldn’t really afford.”When In Doubt Blame Advertising

But the main focus of my article was a woman in California, who along with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), sued McDonald’s for deceptive marketing aimed at the youth of the country. The woman in question went so far as to state: “I object to the fact that McDonald’s is getting into my kids’ heads without my permission and actually changing what my kids want to eat.” You can read the full Ad Week article to get my thoughts on this but needles to say, I didn’t think much of this lawsuit.

Now if that weren’t enough, today comes word that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is jumping into “advertising is evil” – at least when it comes to fast food and kids, fray…

“It’s time for the food industry to clean up its act and not advertise junk food to young children. Just by banning ads for fast food, one study says we could decrease obesity and overweight by 17 percent.” That was a statement made by Dr. Victor Strasburger, who penned the new policy for the AAP. Call me cynical but I would surely love to read more about this study the good doctor references, such as who funded it and who participated in it.

When In Doubt Blame Advertising

Ok, I WILL be cynical now… By not feeding our kids fast food, at least too much of it – you know, moderation? – and feeding them instead healthier foods, and providing them with the means to exercise and not allowing them to plant themselves in front of the TV all day, could decrease obesity and overweight by 100%!

I love how the original source, courtesy of Reuters, conveniently places this fact smack dabble in the middle of it all: “According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one in six children and teenagers are obese — up three-fold from a generation ago.” Yes, how convenient to include the fact that more and more American teenagers are fat and that fast food is to blame.

The full article, which can be found here and many other media outlets, also goes on to speak to the need to limit TV time overall and also to monitor what our children watch… “Violent content also tended to keep kids up at night, no matter when they watched it.” Wow, shocking news! Gimme a break….

‘I don’t know why Jimmy is so heavy… sure, he eats McDonald’s 4-5 times a week but it’s not my fault. It’s all that darned advertising he sees on TV. I don’t WANT to give him that to eat, but what can I do?’

When In Doubt Blame Advertising

Now, I made that last line up but it’s definitely a microcosmic (is that even a word?) overview of far too many parents and others in the world today. It’s actually nothing new, the blame game has been around for centuries. When in doubt, blame someone else or in this case, something else for your problems.

How about this? How about parents actually do some parenting?

I have an eleven-year old daughter and six-year old son and I know full well how hard it is to just say no. My wife tells me all the time I don’t say no enough and she’s probably right but enough already with the blame advertising mantra… look yourself in the mirror Moms and Dads. You are responsible for your children. Not some guy in a clown suit with bright red hair and big red feet in a TV commercial.

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