The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Will flipping through an issue of Sports Illustrated or Vibe compell you to drink more? According to a new study, there appears to be a correlation between increases in teenage readership and the amount of alcohol ad pages some mags get.

From this reading, I'm not at all convinced that the alcohol pushers are targeting kids. The magazines cited here mostly are concerned with youth culture, which these days applies to a broad swath of people between age 12 and 39 (and since youth is so appealing, reaches well beyond those limits). As mentioned, the lifestyle is what the advertisers are hooking onto. Teens are attracted to a title's focus, but so are the real target audience of young adults with lots of disposable income. It's no secret that the alcohol companies appreciate the groundwork being laid by their efforts--you gotta grab them young, so that when they are of age, they'll zero in on your brand. But if companies are going to be called to the carpet over residual effects, you might as well ban all types of advertising altogether.

Beyond the specifics, I see this report as another argument for creating some kind of extended, sterile children's playground. The clear implication is that these magazines should clean up their act because some kids are reading them, and meanwhile ignore the millions of adults who (presumably, age is no surefire measurement of maturity/competence) can handle the advertising and content in those mags. I really resent this "please think of the children" crap. It's an adult's world. If parents want to insulate their kids from all the nasties out there, they're entitled to (although I don't think they're doing anybody any favors with that track). But stop trying to suppress everything that's not kid-approved.

I guess this article also answers my question about who actually reads Reader's Digest--teens! Apparently a big chunk of RD's readership is in that 12-19 demo. Who woulda guessed? I always thought of that mag as an old people's hangout. What would attract the youngsters? There's little to no real pop culture content in it.