Posts Tagged ‘Made You Look’

The Real Deal On Advertising I

Hello everyone! This is Clonez, admin of skydays147 .wordpress .com. I decided that I wanted to give everyone a sample of my real-life writing. I thought this one up in a dream I had, and I was dieing to put it down on paper. I know it isn’t about what I usually talk about, but I hope you enjoy it:

Advertising has always fascinated me when I was little. It is one of those things that are simply unavoidable. They are found on billboards, in magazines, in the form of a commercial, and now they are posted all over the internet.  I used to wake up at six in the morning to watch television before going to school. I would come down in my pajamas and sit in front of the television while I was eating breakfast. It wasn’t just the show that I was watching that I cared about, it was also that five minute commercial in between them. Did you know that the average American child today is exposed to about 40, 000 television commercials a year? That is about 100 commercials a day.(1) This makes me think how crazy it is that one of them does not stick in our heads for the whole day like an engrossing song we hear on the radio.

Anyway, I would then go out to the bus stop; it was about Fifth Grade, and a few kids on the bus would always ask me to recite an entire commercial that I saw. I was literally known on my bus as “Ad Boy” because I had memorized most of the commercials on the television channel that I watched, and the kids were crazy. They wanted to hear ever single one of them, for humor, of course. There was this one song for a commercial that I had memorized for macaroni and cheese, and they would repeatedly ask me to thing that one as a “special request”. Now that I look back on it, no doubt about it, I was wasting my time and looking immature in front of everyone. I might still remember a few little songs to commercials nowadays, but I have mainly moved away from that.

A couple of years later after I had moved away from my recital of commercials, the most fascinating thing had happened to me. It started on a cold, winter morning in Seventh Grade. I came to school early because I was taking Choir, which was almost every day, and there was a sign on the door that said that it was canceled because the teacher was out. Like everyone else who was in Choir, we all went to the library. I decided to wander around, and I supposed that I could check out the nonfiction section for a couple of reading ideas. To my surprise, I had found one of the most moving books I have ever read on advertising. It was called Made You Look and I learned so many new concepts that are used in advertising. I felt like all of the pieces of the puzzle were coming together on why us kids are victims of advertising. In 1983, the amount of money spent on advertising for kids was only $100 million. (2) Now, advertising of kids has jumped up so high that those big, chubby businessmen at the head of the big corporations now spend $15 billion on us. (3)

You probably know someone who is a victim of advertising. What I have always wanted to know is, why do we fall for it? What makes it so that we “have to have it” ? There has to be something that goes on in our brains whenever we look at a billboard, a magazine, or watch a television commercial. That is the one thing that the Made You Look did not get at. I know a couple of my friends who are victims of advertising, especially the ones in commercials. Whenever I go to hang out at my best friend’s house, I notice in his pantry a lot of junk food items that have been advertised on television a massive number of times. They are all brand-name products like Goldfish Crackers, Oreos, Cheese-Its, and Chips Ahoy. One day while he was eating, I asked him, “Why do you only buy snacks that have a brand name?” For some reason, and I am still confused by this, he said, “Because they taste better”. First of all, how can he taste the difference between the no-name brand and the named brand when he hasn’t even tried both foods? Ladies and Gentleman, this is a victim of advertising. It is a person who does not give up their addiction to named product. There are other reasons why people might fall for advertisements. According to a national survey commissioned by the Center for a New American Dream, in 12-13 year-olds, 62% of the people say that eating named-brand products will make he or she feel better about themselves. Remember those days when you were five-years-old and you sat in the front of Mommy’s shopping cart? When you go down that cereal aisle, you say, “Mommy! Mommy! I want the cereal with the tiger on it!” You probably don’t even like Frosted Flakes, you just want it because it makes you feel better about yourself: that cartoon tiger. You scream and pout until you get what you want. When you are a tween, you don’t even bother looking at the generic brand cereal on the bottom self. Why would you want a product that doesn’t have Toucan Sam on it? I learned in Made You Look that there is a reason why they place things in a grocery store on the shelf that they are on. They put all of the brand name products on the shelf at eye-sight level and all of the generic brand products at the top and bottom shelf so that nobody will see them. Try it the next time you are at the grocery store.

There was this one time in Seventh Grade, in Sunday School, our class took a field trip to a grocery store. We were supposed to do this project in which we bought items at the grocery store for a homeless shelter. Each group of five people had to solve the enigma on how to feed a family of 5 people for a week, and under 50 dollars. By instinct, the first shopping items that our group picked out were name brands: bad choice. We went over our quota by a ton of money. The reason we had the instinct to buy named-brand food was because that was the food that we ate in our own household. We had to put everything back and start over from the beginning and choose cost-efficient food items. You probably do not realize it, but name-brand food is drastically over-priced. We do not realize this because normal people do not even bother looking at the price tag on things. Just because something is more expensive does not mean it is better for you. Most of the time, even, there is less food in a package that is advertised. One food that I enjoyed when I was little so much was called Kid Cuisine. It was an individual-sized dinner. On the television, the product looked like it was worth the money to purchase. What I realized when I read Made You Look, was that there are special ways that food advertisers use to make their product look more appealing to the public. For example, in a hamburger advertisement, they might stick a few slabs of Styrofoam in between the bun and the patty to make it look bigger. They also might put a glaze of glue on the bun to make it shinier. Yet the consumer does not realize that the product is fake because we think it is “to good to be true”.

There is one last example that I would like to give from my life. I decided to take a class on Religion this year in high school. In the class, we just started studying about Taoism. The teacher had everyone for homework go home and draw a picture that goes along with a reading that was handed out. It was of an old man fishing in a river between some mountains. (If you want to see my version of it, it is on my other website). Anyway, the next day the teacher taped our drawings up on the board, and right next to it she posted a Chinese landscape painting. There were many differences between them. I felt like in our drawings that it was influenced more by the media world. For example, the old man was in the foreground, signifying that man is more important than nature. The other thing that was different was the mountains in the background. Every mountain in our drawings were almost perfect. They look like an upside-down “U”, which is what we were born into thinking. I mean, I have been to a very rocky area before and I have seen a mountain. I know that mountains don’t look like that, but for some unknown reason, why did I draw that very media-based mountain? It might have been because I had an instinct to do that. The point I am trying to get is that advertising masks everything. What we see on billboards and in magazines is just blocking our vision of nature. The only place where advertising does not exist is in nature. I know when you think of some place like the Himalayas, or the Rocky Mountains, you do not picture all these billboards hanging off the side of the cliff or something. Nor do you see a giant television in the middle of a dense, dark forest.  I remember seeing the commercials for Wal-mart. It always showed these overly-happy people, and as the audience, you are supposed to believe that that is what life really is. The thing is, when you walk into a Wal-Mart, you aren’t going to see smiling cashier-people. You aren’t going to see that cartoon smiley face as their mascot, bouncing around the aisles. We have become over-dependent on advertising to show us what this “real life” is.

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(1) American Psychological Association, “Television Advertising Leads to Unhealthy Habits in Children; Says APA Task Force,” February 23, 2004,www.apa.org/releases/childrenads.html (accessed March 8, 2006).

(2) Juliet Schor, Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture (New York: Scribner, 2004), 21.

(3)Susan Linn, Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood (New York: The New Press, 2004), 1.

Edited By Dublanous1

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