Healthy Habits

Don’t go to the grocery store or shopping for food when you’re hungry. You tend to overspend and make poor food choices.

Healthy Habits

Being media smart prepares you to view ads and make conclusion or choices based on facts, not on impulse or emotion.

Healthy Habits

When you are purchasing something, ask yourself, “Do I need this item?” or “Do I want this item.” Sometimes our wants speak louder than our needs.


Battle The Food- Advertising Media!

Food ads are BIG business — more than $33 billion is spent every year in the U.S. alone. These ads are directed at their favorite target market: You!

Much of this glitzy advertising is aimed at youth. Think about all those magazine spreads, outdoor signs, radio chatter, movie-screen commercials and TV spots that constantly pop up during your favorite shows. Advertising on kid and teen TV shows focus on fast food, soft drinks, candy and sugary cereals. Similar food products are even packaged to appeal more to young people.

How do you battle this vicious advertising assault and emerge the winner when it comes to your Health Trek? You need to be media savvy and aware that you, yes you, are the target market.


Do They Have your Number? — Food Marketing Strategies

These are strategies that are used by advertising companies to draw your attention to their product and ultimately, prompt you to buy it.

  • Ideal kids — Why do all the teens in this ad have perfect hair, perfect teeth and perfect skin?
  • Family fun — Is this family really having that much fun because of that food or meal?
  • Excitement — Can this meal or food actually create the excitement shown?
  • Star power — Will you be magically transformed into your favorite celebrity, or be just like them, just by eating the same thing?
  • Bandwagon — Everyone else is obviously doing it, so why not me?
  • Heartstrings — What a warm feeling this meal or food creates. Sign me up!
  • Cartoon characters — If Scooby-Doo likes it, it's got to be awesome. Wait, he's an animated dog!
  • Cool factor — Man, I will be dripping style when I grub on that sugary, fattening, nutrition-less food. Right?
  • Jingles or slogans — With a catchy song or phrase like that, how can I resist? It's got to be good for me!

During youth programs, ads take up 10.5 minutes per hour on weekends and 12 minutes per hour during the week. As of 2010 it is estimated that food companies spend approximately $10 billion to advertise food and beverages to American youth. According to a Federal Trade Commission report, “44 major food and beverage companies spent $1.6 billion to promote their products to children and teens in the United States in 2006. “A factor in the 18% obesity rate among children and teens? We think so.

What Exactly Are They Trying To Do?

Take a closer look at food marketing and you

Take a look at these ads. They show the food item that the restaurant is trying to market. Then they show the comparison of what the item looks like in real life after it was purchased. Interesting, don’t you think? Also remember what you see is not always what you get.

Carefully consider food ads on TV and jot down your ideas about what the advertisers are up to. Working with the Food Marketing Strategies list, determine which are at work in the ads (often there are several) and if there are others not listed that the advertisers are using.

Ad_vs_real_muffin Ad_vs_real_burritto

Think About This

What food commercials and ads "work" on you and which do you like more than the others? Why? What food commercials and ads, if any, fail? Why?

Get Creative — Turn The Tables:

Learn the tricks of the trade used by the media to lure you in. Grab a sketch pad or work in a favorite drawing program to create food ads that tell the truth about food products. As an example, use the anti-smoking TV ads designed to show the lies told by tobacco companies. Take some of the facts and figures you've learned from Health Trek to make your case stronger. Share them with your family and friends. Feels good, doesn't it?

No Thanks, I’m Media Literate And Target Market Savvy

So how does it feel to be a target and manipulated by the tactics of food advertisers? Now that you understand that you have been targeted by these companies, have you changed your opinion when it comes to buying certain products? Will saying “No,” to these foods still be difficult? Or will it now be a matter of saying, "No thanks, I don’t need any fatty-sugary-salty-nutrition-less food!"

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