TV ads and teen viewers

Did you know that this year’s Super Bowl was the third most-watched broadcast in TV history? About 108.4 million viewers tuned in of which about half were just to see the commercials, which ran between $3.8 and $4 million per 30 second spot. Yikes.

According to the Big Bowl Vote, which had 32 participating states, about 72 percent of sixth- through eighth-graders and 73 percent of ninth- through 12th-graders watched the Super Bowl. What did they like best? The goat with the insatiable hunger for Doritos placed top with both age groups, followed by Taco Bell’s old folks hitting the town by both age groups. The Budweiser ad with the cute little Clydesdale (named Hope) came in third and fourth with the two age groups.

So what’s the big deal? Well, research shows young people are drawn to advertising that features animal and people characters, tells a story and makes them laugh. Does this mean more kids will now start drinking alcohol because they liked the ad? Maybe. Why? Because the alcohol ads that young people find to be appealing are more likely to elicit their wanting to purchase the brand advertised. But wait we also know that the more youth are exposed to alcohol advertising, the more likely they are to drink (to excess and more often).

It isn’t just TV ads to which our youth will be exposed; it’s computers, billboards and radio. While we can’t shield our youth from every alcohol advertisement, we can make it a teachable moment. Have you heard of media literacy? It’s when you can look at a message with a critical eye and not be influenced by the advertisement. A good example is a T-shirt with a can of beer and some stupid statement that makes it look like getting drunk is OK.

So parents, sit down with your child, and when a commercial comes on, try to “decode” the message by asking these questions:

What did they use to get your attention?

What do they want to do after you see the commercial?

Would this be a healthy decision for you?

Do you think the ad cares about your health and safety?

How do you feel about the ad now?

The Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties is committed to sharing information and resources for better mental health and the prevention of substance abuse. If you would like more information, please call the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties at (419) 448-0640. The board’s office hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.

Nancy Cochran,

executive director