Did you know that all media exists to deliver a captive audience to people who have something to sell? Because of their age, developmental vulnerability, and spending power, our teens are currently the most targeted market segment in the world. Based on their own research, marketers now estimate that teenagers encounter anywhere between 3500 and 7000 marketing messages a day. While a teen will act on those messages by purchasing only a very small number of the products advertised, there’s another aspect of these messages which they more easily “buy” into. You see, marketing not only sells product, but it sells a worldview. Over the course of their childhood and teenage years, kids encounter message after message defining what they’re to believe and how they’re to live their lives, both now and in the future. Marketing is shaping the kids long after the product’s been used or forgotten.
I was prompted to think about these realities recently while driving down local highway 283 here in Lancaster. I saw this billboard. . . which happens to be one of many similarly themed billboards in this local radio station's billboard ad campaign. Not only does it send clear messages about what we should believe and how we should live, but it's very presence sends an even clearer message about what we already believe and how we are already living.
How do you talk about and process an ad like this with your kids?
If you are committed to discipling teens and leading them to spiritual maturity, it’s essential that you teach them to think deliberately, criticially, and Christianly about the marketing diet delivered to them each and every day. Process ads with teens on a regular basis, filtering them through these “Simple Seven” ad-processing questions:
What product is this ad selling?
What, besides the product, does this ad sell? (ideas, lifestyle, worldview, behaviors, etc.)
What’s the bait, hook, and promise?
Complete this sentence: “This ad tells me, use_________ (the name of the product) and ____________ (the result the ad promises).
Does the ad tell the truth? What? How?
Does the ad tell a lie(s)? What? How?
How does this ad and its messages agree or disagree with God’s truth and what does that mean for me?