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Andres Aullet

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Should we teach our kids about how advertisement (public relationships, marketing) works?

Let's face it, advertisement works.

But let's also admit it, it is not as simple as a creative ad shown during the superbowl or a picture on a magazine that we find funny and incidentally reminds us of some particular brand of chips, or insurance company.

As far as i know (admittedly a much more thorough research can be done), advertisement works because it exploits a few flaws in the way our subconscious work:

- we remember things best when emotion is evoked while we learn them (fear, anger, excitement). And this is due to the chemical changes that these emotions induce in our brain.

- we decide mostly with emotions, and not with reason. This seems counter intuitive to most people

- we live with the ever present contradiction of trying to be unique and trying to be like others. We like to be singled out if we are wearing nice clothing, but we hate being singled out if our pants happen to rip.

- being rejected by our peers, or not being part of the in-group we admire, actually hurts, pretty much in the same way (neurologically) as a punch in the stomach hurts

- anything repeated frequently makes a stronger memory, easier to recall, and a memory that is easier to recall is trusted more (and feels more familiar) regardless of it's veracity

- novel experiences are considered riskier than familiar experiences, regardless of their real inherent risk


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So all these factors are merged with a product and tweaked to make that product appealing and familiar to us, without us fully understanding why it feels appealing and familiar.

Now, recently the target of the advertising industry are increasingly younger kids. And I would venture to say that if many adults don't fully understand why advertisement works, then even less kids would be expected to know

Should we include in a kids education: at schools, in church sermons, at dinner table conversations, an explanation of what advertisement is and why it works? What would be an argument against teaching this?

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  • Nov 2 2012: Yeah,we have to, for there are too much ads passing "bad" information to the younger generation if you do not expain to the children how the ad words. For example, in recently years, Abercrombie & Fitch ads http://www.abercrombiedeutschlandde.de.com/ always apply half-naked men, so we must tell our children something about that
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      Nov 2 2012: Hi Jane,

      Thanks for your comment. Yes I was discussing this with some friends recently when taking about a topic that is in the political discourse lately (at least here in the USA), which is rape and abortion.

      We agreed that we cannot expect a decline in the prevalence of rape if our culture makes a business out of portraying women in a denigrating way.

      It is not too hard to understand why humans react to sexual images, in particular why is it that males are more prone to react than females, as it has its roots in our evolution, even before there were humans

      But I think that we can use this knowledge to arm our kids with tools to be able to better deal with these reactions when they come

      cheers

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