It is next to impossible, in our current hyper-connected era, to avoid advertising in all its forms. During a 1-hour television program, the viewer can expect to see approximately 15 minutes of commercials; magazines have dozens of ad pages; radio advertising often crops up between songs and during hourly news and weather updates. Most consumers find ads to be an understandably annoying interruption – but for some, they’re a minefield to be navigated: for a recovering addict, the recurring temptations posed by alcohol, food, gambling or even vacation ads can be difficult to resist. Advertising practices far too often prey on vulnerabilities, feeding our need to fit in by showing attractive models looking flawless, living perfect lives and having tons of fun, and showcasing their product as the key to achieving that perceived ideal lifestyle.
First, to someone with a food addiction or an eating disorder, the prevalence of food marketing can be difficult to resist: billboards spread throughout cities, print advertising in newspapers and magazines, coupon mailings or flyers, television and radio spots bombard the consumer throughout their day, whether at work or home.
To someone addicted to travel or using it to avoid their responsibilities, or to fill a void, especially those spending money they can ill afford to, the prevalence of low-cost vacation advertising – especially online – feeds the craving to escape reality and travel to exotic and fabulous locations.
For the recovering alcoholic, navigating daily life while avoiding the desire to drink is certainly difficult enough without encountering ads touting the smooth flavour of their liquor of choice.
Further, the advertiser can never be sure of their audience; though American advertising standards prohibit alcohol advertising using child-focused characters and where there is no reasonable expectations that over 70% of the audience will be over the legal drinking age, far too many children can still be exposed to alcohol ads and other harmful marketing, as many sports clubs or events are sponsored by alcohol producing companies.
Currently, many countries have strict standards for advertising, or even ban the advertisement of specific products, such as alcohol; health warnings on products labels might be required, which – though they inform citizens of the consequences of drinking alcohol – have not, according to A Review Of Research Into The Impacts Of Alcohol Warning Labels On Attitudes And Behaviour by Tim Stockwell, PhD., had a significant impact on reducing high-risk drinking in the United States.