Wed 9 Apr 2008
Last night I watched a little TV, not too much as I was busy with something else, but even in the short time I was actually looking at the screen I saw adverts for everything from cars to feminine hygiene products yet today I have bought absolutely nothing.
I can’t think of a single time where an advert has made me want to buy a product I didn’t already want or need anyway. There have been occasions when I would have perhaps seen an advert for something, such as deodorant for example, where I would normally buy one brand but instead bought this other brand because of the advert I’d seen for it - but I was going to buy deodorant of one kind or another so what the advert succeeded in doing was to lure me over from another manufacturer.
Of course this is extremely important to manufacturers - not only do they have to lure in new customers to whatever it is they make, but they also have to steal their competitor’s customers so that they can continue to grow and presumably become the largest company in their sector.
Over the last few years people have lobbied to have adverts for certain products removed from our TV screens and magazines, and I’m not sure why this is. Do adverts really make you go out and buy things that otherwise you wouldn’t buy anyway?
Cigarettes have been the main target in all this. Historically they have used sport as a means of getting their brand recognisable - particularly “men’s” sports such as Formula 1, snooker and darts. Now they are not allowed to advertise anywhere at all which has left these sports struggling for sponsorship, although they all seem to have managed to get onto an even keel now.
Snooker and darts in particular struggled for a while, but now they are okay - but the replacement sponsors seem to mainly be gambling websites. How long before people are campaigning to have these banned as well? Not long surely.
I have watched both F1 and snooker since I was just a child yet I have never smoked, nor felt the compulsion to even try it, in my life. I think that there are undoubtedly people out there who have started smoking because they have seen someone on TV doing it and for whatever reason thought it was “cool”, but has anyone ever started smoking simply because they saw a Ferrari with Marlboro written on the side of it?
Perhaps if I was a smoker of another brand and I saw Ferrari’s association with Marlboro then I would switch allegiance to this new brand, but that’s not the issue here. Removing advertising was to discourage people from smoking in the first place, but I feel if someone was going to start they would for some other reason, not because of a logo on someone’s car. Let’s face it, if a warning that you are probably going to die of lung cancer or some other horrible disease is printed on the packet and that doesn’t put you off then what will?
From a health point of view smoking is very bad for you, so I can understand why there has been a bit of a clampdown to try and stop people doing it, I’m just not sure this has been the best way round it.
I would say the majority of people who start smoking are not going to be put off simply because they no longer see cigarette companies sponsoring F1 - in fact making it appear more secretive and “unlawful” may have quite the opposite effect.
There will be study after study into all this and one side will conjure up facts which show this approach works and the other side will manipulate the figures to show that it doesn’t.
That’s the problem with research, there never seems to be a definitive answer! One week you can’t eat tomatoes as they give you cancer, the next they are telling us that eating tomatoes can actually prevent cancer, and so on…
The latest target for the lobbyists is alcohol. Carling currently sponsor the Rangers and Celtic football teams and their logos appear not only on the team’s strips but also on the replica strips sold to fans. As of next year, no alcohol logos will be allowed on replica strips sold in children’s sizes, so Carling are pre-empting this by removing the logos now - and gaining some more publicity by doing so in the meantime!
I don’t particularly want to see children running about in shirts with Carling or Whyte & Mackay written all over them, but again I fail to see how children seeing these logos automatically means they will want to buy the products associated with them.
If they are brought up with a strong mind, and educated with proper attention paid to health and wellbeing then when the time comes they will be better equiped to deal with these things themselves. Surely it’s better if people are healthy by not smoking and drinking to excess because they want to and realise the benefits themselves rather than simply because other people have made the decision for them?