The study looked at older children and younger adults, aged 15-23, according to a report on philly.com. The question they wanted to answer was whether or not advertising for alcohol and fast food sent members of this age group out on a mission to find either of the advertised items.
A link was indeed found.
Participants in the study were shown 20 ads for each category, altered so that the name of the brand being advertised was obscured. They were asked if they could name the brand regardless.
It was found that the respondents who admitted to drinking were well above average when it came to correctly filling in the brand blank for the alcohol ads, and the same was true of the fast food ads, where overweight and obese respondents did better at filling in the blank than the general respondent pool.
One of the researchers, in noting the obvious link, admitted that it was impossible to tell whether the ads influenced the behavior of the individuals, or whether the individuals recognized the ads because they were already interested in the behavior.
RBR-TVBR observation: There is an endless stream of studies like this – we’re glad this one noted the chicken-egg question that remained after the study was complete.
It’s really easy to try to pin the blame on the media for society’s ills.
Crime is up? It couldn’t have anything to do with poverty, unemployment, or a high percentage of single parent households. No, it’s the media’s fault!
College students are drinking before they reach the age of 21? It couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that this has been going on since the dawn of higher education. No, it’s the media again!
We expect advertising does influence brand choices among America’s youth – that’s what it’s supposed to do and a lot of people rake in the big bucks making sure advertising is effective. But it is but one of thousands of influences on behavior. Finding a way to test for media influence alone is probably impossible. From what we’ve seen, it hasn’t happened yet.