In the capitalistic society where we live, it’s hard not to look left and right without seeing an advertisement in a billboard. It could be about some apparel, mouth-watering food, or maybe some innovative new phone that gets released every year. While there’s only a slim chance that we’ll be getting the product just because we saw an advertisement, it’s all about subconsciously getting into our mind.
In many industries, marketing and advertisements are considered to be the backbone of the business. It is quite apparent for most fast-food corporations that use posters and branding to make potential customers aware. That is why most fast-food brands use red and yellow as themes to their brands, and it’s to get as much attention as possible through emotional force.
In almost every part of the world, there are fast-food chains that cater to the general public. With everybody being too busy to cook for themselves, it’s only rational that people will pass through a fast-food restaurant, get a meal on-the-go, and then go back to work. That is partly why most options served in fast-food chains are composed of burgers, fries, and other finger foods.
While there’s nothing wrong with earning a decent living through having a business, especially in an industry that caters to the general public with ready-to-eat meals, there’s still something quite sinister about using how fast-food chains operate.
Fast Food Marketing
Let’s face it: the marketing model of the fast-food industry is pretty good. Since marketing is all about making potential costumers aware of your product, a lot of the marketing strategies that these corporations use are targeted towards the subconscious of these potential customers; and there’s no better way of doing it than starting them young. The fast-food industry has spent over $4.6 billion on their advertising campaign since they are aware that children will remain key audiences.
Even being in preschool, we have been secretly ingrained to think that fast-food restaurants are a time-efficient alternative than having home-made meals.
Do you remember craving a specific type of fast-food meal when you were a child? If you have, then the marketing strategies of a particular fast-food chain might have been active. That is probably since most of these marketing strategies and ads have bombarded our psyche for a long time. Even after these children who have been subjected to these types of marketing have grown, they will still go back to the same fast-food chain since it’s related to their nostalgia.
For the most part, high competition has led to a campaign were these fast-food companies would vie for control over their younger audience. It has led to most parents questioning the ethical nature of these advertisements.
But is it unethical? Here’s how they do it.
How do they do it?
Most fast-food chains implore a plethora of different strategies, ranging from promotional videos and posters that are shot with athletes, billboard advertisements, and media content streamed on television. Additionally, with the recent rise of social media trends, most fast-food chains have incorporated and mainly used social media to grow their network.
Most psychological institutions say that most young teenagers and adolescents don’t have the necessary cognitive control, which means that they are easily drawn to these types of advertisements.
Another tactic that these companies use is by tapping into the reward center of the brain. Each time you buy a ‘happy’ meal, you would get a chance to get a toy that you can then add to a limited collection.
Why do most people find these types of advertisements unethical? It’s not necessarily about the commercials, but it’s about the food that’s being placed on a pedestal. Typically, these are your hot dogs, chicken nuggets, burger patties, ground meat, and anything that has been widely manufactured. While most of these products claim to have tons of vitamins and nutrients, most are jam-packed with calories, leading to obesity among children.
Checking on Ourselves and Our Kids
There’s no doubt that there is evidence that these campaigns are targeting our children. Contrary to what most people think, children can grasp complex topics, such as marketing and business. Therefore, it’s essential to start our children young by sitting them down and giving them a lesson on advertisements and why these businesses use them.
Most parental groups have urged government entities to start policing advertisements that are catered towards children. By making our children aware of the situation, they will be more likely to eat healthier food than ultra-processed ones.
There’s a long-standing debate on whether this type of marketing has questionable ethics. While there’s no problem with building an audience and a following with marketing, these should be targeted to responsible and fully independent adults. They have the self-control to discern morality and ethics in this aspect of a business.
One thing’s for sure: we have to be mindful and aware of what our children are eating. While fast food are cheap and delicious treats that can be taken on-the-go, most of these foods are being processed and the nutrient content that they have left much to be desired.