Another perspective on advertising is advanced by renowned media critic, Ben Bagdikian.
Bagdikian argues that program content is changed and shaped based on the demographics of audiences so that it becomes less important than the type of person being targeted by advertising during programs. These programs ‘dumb down’ content and promote a ‘buying mood’.
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In recent times, as more people have added subscription television to their entertainment fare, more opportunities have been created to market products to children on channels, such as Nickelodeon and the Cartoon Network, which deliver children-specific programming.
The Internet has provided even more opportunity through websites which feature content aimed at children.
Acknowledments: The author is grateful for the constructive comments and suggestions made on a previous version of this paper by Ms Kaye Mehta, Senior Lecturer, Nutrition and Dietetics, Faculty of Health Sciences, Flinders University.
Thanks also to my colleagues, Dr Matthew Thomas and Paula Pyburne, for their valuable contributions.
Effectively, this means that in a consumer-oriented society, people define themselves as consumers and they are persuaded that they gain a fundamental gratification from consumption.
So advertisers generate systems of meaning, prestige and identity by associating their products with certain life-styles, symbolic values and pleasures. What this amounts to is a situation where advertising works to affect purchasing in a variety of subtle ways, as is illustrated in the box below.