Monday, December 04, 2006

Docs target inappropriate advertising - about time!

A doctor's group in the US has made the brilliant observation that advertising influences attitudes in children, and has come out with a call for the government to do something about it.

Inappropriate advertising contributes to many kids' ills, from obesity to anorexia, to drinking booze and having sex too soon, and Congress should crack down on it, the American Academy of Pediatrics says. The influential doctors' group issued a new policy statement in response to what it calls a rising tide of advertising aimed at children.

Rising tide? Have these guys been operating in a vacuum during the last 40 or so years?

... These pervasive ads influence kids to demand poor food choices, and to think drinking is cool, sex is a recreational activity and anorexia is fashionable, the academy says. Interactive digital TV, expected to arrive in a few years, will spread the problem, allowing kids to click on-screen links to Web-based promotions...

Well, duh. But it's pretty naive to expect the U.S. government to take on the big money ad agencies, the big money businesses who shell out big bucks for the ads, and the lawyers paid to look after big-money interests. The backlash against the docs is already starting.

Critics of advertising restrictions say it's a free-speech issue. ...

Of course they do. But still, while demanding change won't bring it about completely, at least it's a start.

Last year, the Institute of Medicine agreed that evidence suggesting that TV ads contribute to childhood obesity is compelling and said industry should market healthy foods to kids. And in September, the Federal Communications Commission said it will study potential links between TV ads and rising rates of obesity in U.S. children. The food industry has started to respond.

This is good news. But how long will it take for an advocacy group to lean on the entertainment industry? Might be a while. As they say in the advertising world, sex sells. It's an even bigger cash cow than food, and there doesn't seem to be much public concern over the escalating encroachment of porn into every aspect of advertising.

Full article here.

No comments: