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Analyzing Tobacco & Alcohol Advertisements

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
In this lesson, you're going to learn about the various ways advertisements are used by the tobacco, alcohol, and drug industry to target their current or future customer base.

Business and Money

Let's face it: companies are out there to make money. Even if they claim otherwise, no money means no business. And the way most people find out about a product or service is through some form of marketing or advertising.

Alcohol, tobacco, and drug companies use advertisements to target and influence their consumers - let's take a closer look at how.

Alcohol Advertisements

If you've ever seen an ad for an alcoholic beverage, you know that it's pretty cookie-cutter in some ways, regardless of which company we're talking about.

In most ads for alcoholic beverages, the actors consuming it are all having the time of their life! The product appears totally fun and safe as a result. The bottle or can itself has a smooth, attractive shape that looks really nice to hold.

Some ads emphasize the foam that some beer lovers enjoy. Others will make an alcoholic beverage look ice cold, especially if the ad is running on a hot summer day. These ads are specifically designed to entice our senses and our need and want to be happy and have fun. They're not just selling you the beverage; they're selling you a taste, a desire to cool down, or a desire to have the time of your life.

Beer Froth May Entice Some to Buy Alcohol

Further ads use the likes of celebrities to promote their product. Why? Well if you love celebrity X and he loves beer Y, then because celebrity X is so great surely there's something to the beer that he drinks!

Tobacco Advertisements

Tobacco companies are no different. Their ads sell you more than a product; they try to sell you a part of life as well. Some emphasize a certain smell or flavor, like menthol. Others emphasize how the smoker looks cool when smoking their product. Note how just about all the smokers in tobacco ads are models; none of them are wrinkled or coughing their lungs out. That wouldn't do much to get you to buy the product, now would it?

A Cigarette Ad That Makes the Smoker Look Cool

And some forms of advertising are subliminal, especially when it comes to youth. The famous Camel ads made use of a cool cartoonish camel that appealed to kids. One survey showed that almost half of convenience stores in California had at least one tobacco ad located at a young kids' eye level. Other stores placed the ads near candy.

Candy-flavored, tobacco-like products have also been accused of targeting youth. The shape and texture of a product are sometimes viewed as an advertisement that primes youth for future tobacco products, like the shredded chewing gum called Big League Chew, which has even been accused of preparing a child's mouth for chewing tobacco.

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