Advertising to Youth

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In the ever expanding world of consumerism and advertising, companies are constantly looking for new ways to sell their products to youth by making their commercials and campaigns more memorable than the competition; thus having to reinvent themselves. The youth generation has become the prime target because they have more spending power than ever before; because of more disposabel income, and increased avenues at their disposal in which to spend their money. Therefore companies spend an enormous amount of money on advertisement to ensure popularity and early brand loyalty. In the last decade, these superbrands are looking towards new and outrageous ways to capture young audiences, although these campaigns are appealing, how effective are they? This essay is meant to demonstrate how companies are reinventing themselves, whether their efforts are effective, and what possible implications these actions may have on youth during their teenage years, when they may be the most impressionable.

As mentioned earlier, youth are incredibly important to the international market, in “The Advertising Age”, Jeff Jensen mentions that in todays youth market “Selling out is not only accepted, it’s considered hip” (Klein, pg. 65) Corporate sponsorships have become a regular occurrence, as a conglomerates advertise during large sport events, concerts and or even host entire contests . This provides for a perfect channel of penetration to a large amount of youth as they are usually key observers of these types of events. An example of this would be the how McDonald’s was a sponser of the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games. Throughout the two week duration of the games, McDonald’s sponsorship was seen everywhere, which was ironic considering that most food offered at McDonald’s is high in fat and cholesterol. Regardless of the facts, the company promoted themselves as a product of healthy active living by having athletes endorse their products. An earlier campaign featured pop icon Justin Timberlake collaborating with the Golden Arches, and creating the slogan and jingle “Im Lovin It”, which later furthered his own music career.

The use of music to attract attention to a product has become a new advertising trend among numerous companies because it allows the organization to appear in tune with youth culture by using familiar songs, or artists to identify with the brand. A revolutionary effort made by automobile manufacturers such as Audi, Ford, Honda, and BMW has changed brand image by creating brand loyalty among “a whole new generation” and “chasing young buyers.” (Halliday, 16) In the case of Audi, they sponsored David Bowie’s concert, and asked fans to collaborate two of his hit songs for their next campaign; the winner would win a brand new Audi TT coupe. “The target for the contest [was] skewe[ed] to 20-something consumers, younger than Audi's traditional audience in their late 30s to early 50s” (Halliday, 16) As for BMW, their angle for targeting youth aged 15-30 years old was similarly clever. They sponsored young go-cart drivers by providing them with scholarships to race for BMW Formula USA professionally, not only helping build the winners careers, but have their new target audience identify with the drivers and therefore, the brand. In the past, luxury vehicles such as BMW and Audi were mostly marketed towards baby boomers, but marketers are starting to realize the market value of advertising to youth approaching an age when they start deciding what car they should identify with. This creates brand loyalty at an early age, that will hopefully generate sales for the companies later on.

The above are all examples of how to secure brand loyalty among youth at an early age. Although the campaigns are ingenious marketing strategies, the repercussions may be serious. In the case of McDonald’s, there are some serious ethical issues centered around the fact that a restaurant that sells junk food is promoting itself as an alternative to...
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