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Effectively, this means that in a consumer-oriented society, people define themselves as consumers and they are persuaded that they gain a fundamental gratification from consumption.
This may be the result of a combination of factors, including smaller family size, people postponing having children until later in life and the fact that there are more dual income families.
Whatever the cause, the result is that children and young people are now an important demographic for advertisers.
Serious articles were not always the best support for ads.
An article that put the reader in an analytical frame of mind did not encourage the reader to take seriously an ad that depended on fantasy or promoted a trivial product.
Marketing on the Internet employs a variety of techniques to appeal including advertorials, competitions, video links, product discounts and ‘advergames’.
Advergames are advertiser-sponsored video games which embed brand messages in colourful, fun, fast-paced adventures which are created by companies for the explicit purpose of promoting their brands. Indeed, advertising has effectively broadened to include a comprehensive range of activities—television advertising, marketing on the Internet, product placement in television programs, films , and DVDs, computer and videogames, peer-to-peer or viral marketing, supermarket sales promotions, cross promotions between films and television programs, use of licensed characters and spokes-characters, celebrity endorsements, marketing in children’s magazines, outdoor advertising, print marketing, sponsorship of school and sporting activities, marketing on mobile phones and branding on toys and clothing. More disposable income is now available to many families, and consequently, parents appear more willing to buy goods for their children than in the past.The second group of studies takes a societal view in examining ways in which advertising, and the mass media overall, may help to concentrate economic and cultural power in the hands of a few corporations and individuals.In an analysis of studies which have looked at advertising from the persuasive/manipulative perspective, American academics John Harms and Douglas Kellner conclude that it creates meanings for consumers through visual imagery.An article on genuine social suffering might interrupt the ‘buying’ mood on which most ads for luxuries depend.The next step, seen often in mid-twentieth century magazines, was commissioning articles solely to attract readers who were good prospects to buy products advertised in the magazine.Some change to Australia’s current approach may occur in the future, however, as a result of a number of factors, such as growing public demand for intervention and a shift in health policy emphasis towards prevention.There is a significant body of academic work which discusses the ways in which advertising influences behaviour.The World Health Organization (WHO) has labelled childhood obesity as one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21 century.In 2010, according to WHO, there are an estimated 42 million children under five years old who are overweight, and this figure is increasing at an alarming rate. In Australia, in 2007–08, around eight per cent of children were estimated to be obese and 17 per cent overweight. Children who are overweight or obese are likely to grow into obese adults who risk developing a number of chronic non-communicable ailments, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. As these diseases add billions in health costs to national economies, it is clearly desirable both for individuals and for society overall, to devise and introduce policies which prohibit or limit their proliferation.In particular, the paper notes recent Australian Government approaches to dealing with this issue and the stance taken in favour of advertising regulation by the Australian Greens.The paper concludes that overall, the Australian response has been cautious in relation to calls for more action to deal with obesity and its concomitant health problems.