Advertising and addiction

helping hand People who have issues with addiction will tell you that there are certain things that trigger their addicted behaviors. Believe it or not, advertising can often be one of those dangerous triggers because it can make people start thinking about something that they have been trying to put out of their mind. While most of us can ignore and switch off ads that are not interesting to us, the same cannot be said for people with addiction issues. This is a serious problem, especially when you consider that there are ads served everywhere nowadays. Let’s look at how advertising and addiction can go hand in hand.


Have you ever noticed that food ads seem to pop up all over the place when you are hungry? The reality is that they are there all the time, but you only really notice them when that craving kicks in. Imagine how that must feel for shopaholics or alcoholics. Almost everything is commercialized and ads for shopping deals are everywhere. There are beer and liquor ads to be found at every turn. As hard as those folks try not to think about their addiction without these stimulators, it becomes a lot more difficult when they are constantly displayed in front of them.


Certain issues become bigger issues when advertising is involved because it tries to make everything a popularity contest with the most advertised products being the most desirable. For example, with beer and alcohol ads everywhere, alcohol-related health and mental issues become more serious as more people are encourage to consume more of those items.

Effect on youth

Young people don’t always have a fully developed sense of what is right and wrong. Sure, they know that they are not legally allowed to drink or do things that have an age restriction, but that doesn’t stop them from trying. Ads have a way of making those off-limits things seem cool, popular and tempting, which is why young people want to be a part of that scene.

Subliminal message

Some ads contain hidden messages. Let’s keep our example on beer ads. Those ads never really show anyone getting sick, feeling awful or making bad decisions after using their products. Instead, the focus is on people smiling and having fun in cool locations, surrounded by a slew of good looking people. What’s not to like?

PSA funding should be required

While everyone has a right to advertise the products that they sell, they also have appropriate responsibilities. If their products can become addictive then they should fund efforts to prevent and treat people with addiction issues. This is why many beer, alcohol, gambling ads feature a 1-800 phone number to help people who have addiction issues or who feel may be heading down that road.

Ads for the better good

While ads can trigger an issue for people with addiction, they can also help solve those problems. Advertising can be used to shine a light on social issues like addiction, as well as many more, by making people aware of the impact that advertising can have on people who view them everyday and use them responsibly and for a good cause.
Posted in Ad Strategies AdServer for Advertiser by Watson F August 01, 2018


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