Social Commentary

Television Ads: Going Too Far?


Recently there has been an increase in “gross out” ads created in an attempt to persuade people to drop unhealthy habits like smoking. There is also a high number of commercials dedicated to Viagra, Condoms, Feminine napkins, and prescription medications.  I wonder whether these ads should be allowed on television, whether they accomplish their goals, and how they affect the medical field.

While watching a highly anticipated season premiere, or a movie on TV there are commercial breaks that interrupt the viewing flow. In-and-of itself that’s bad enough, but add in ads specifically designed to make you want to throw up the popcorn you’ve been eating, it’s just not humane. I really don’t want to see pulsating fatty tissue, and diseased organs among the many other images that degrade the television screen between scenes of my favorite show. Here is a disturbing example though not of the graphic nature:

There has to be a better way to get across the fact that smoking is incredibly unhealthy and not a smart choice without making everyone want to throw up. Luckily, campaigns do exist that are working that angle. By using comedy(in some of the Ads) and facts The Real Cost is creating waves without inducing vomiting. They’re mostly targeting teens a.k.a the next generation of smokers, lawmakers, etc., However, that doesn’t stop the ads from influencing the older viewers too. Here is an example:

According to statistics gathered by the CDC, since 2006, the amount of adult smokers hovers between 21% and 18%, a difference of 9,262,366 people. Though they believe that by this year it’ll reach a low of 17%. Significant, yes. But it must also be taken into account the number of smokers who die every year. With these statistics, can we really say that these gross-out commercials are worth it? I don’t think they are because when we look at the statistics for youth smokers between 2006-2007, the amount of youth smoking decreased by 4%, and between then and 2010, another 4%. These are much more significant numbers and thus show that graphic commercials aimed at adults don’t work half as well as the commercials aimed at youth.

Now, to the next question. Should condoms, Viagra, prescription medication, and tampon commercials be on television? Tampons and condoms are readily available in stores, where the packaging is more than able to outline the special characteristics of that particular brand. Which eliminates the need for television ads. When it comes to Viagra and other prescription medication those deal with conditions overseen by doctors. Shouldn’t doctors be the ones prescribing the medicine, and shouldn’t the patient not walk in and say that they need a certain medicine? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of doctors? The fact that so many medications are on television begs the question; “Are they actually trying to be helpful or are they just trying to make money?”

Personally, I don’t think these should be on television because it creates an environment where doctors prescribe these medicines for profit rather than because they are the best to treat the conditions present in the patient.

What about you? What are your thoughts and should it be changed? How should it be changed? Let me know! 🙂



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