Advertisers Lose Ground in 2011

Cleaning the toxic areas of our mental environment.

Modified D+G advertisement from Vanity Fair, Oct. 2010

After years of concentrated activism, lawmakers worldwide are finally waking up to the impact ads have luring individuals, especially the young, into unhealthy and damaging lifestyles. Alcohol, tobacco, cosmetics and junk food memes are being roasted by governments far and wide. This global awakening is only the first phase of a much more grand action to see ads not as messengers but as the messages themselves – the cause of worldwide mental dysfunction. In phase two, the barriers between physiological and psychological health will wither away and the mental environment will be an equal to the biological one.

Facebook and Twitter’s free advertising ride on French television is over. Broadcast regulators have issued a stern warning that name-dropping the two social media giants and encouraging viewers to “check us out on ––– and –––” is to stop unless the companies pay for the promotion.

Cosmetic titan L’Oreal is forced to remove two print ads by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority. The ads in question, featuring Hollywood actress Julia Roberts and supermodel Christy Turlington, featured airbrushed images of the 40-plus duo so distorted they could have been mistaken as teenagers.

China has been aggressively targeting the tobacco industry, banning smoking advertising on TV, radio and newsprint. The ban is part of China’s strategy to halt its smoking epidemic (an estimated 350 million addicted), the highest addiction rate in the world.

McDonald’s Happy Meal toys are outlawed in San Francisco, killing the top-selling Happy Meal promotion in the city. City Council ruled the toys unfairly manipulate children into purchasing unhealthy and obesity-causing foods.

Fast food chains and junk food makers in the USA are given until 2013 to voluntarily stop advertising to preteens or face government regulation. Michelle Obama’s Task Force on Childhood Obesity said the current advertising self-regulatory body, the Children’s’ Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (whose members included McDonald’s, KFC, Mars, and so on … ) is completely ineffective.

Lawmakers in Canada’s French-speaking province, Québec, continue to defend their 1989 law banning all commercial advertising directed at children 13 and under, the only such law in North America.

SpongeBob SquarePants is proven to make your child dumb and agitated. An American study shows that “children who watched nine minutes of the show scored significantly worse on assessments designed to measure memory and self control than children who watched a slower paced cartoon or kids who spent nine minutes drawing.” The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has launched a campaign to stop Nickelodeon marketing the cartoon to children under six.

The American ad industry admits it is bleeding new recruits. In 2011, 81 percent of managers in the nations’ top firms said the industry faced a talent crisis with fewer young professionals choosing advertising as a career.

Advertisers eager to get a share of Egypt’s post revolution deregulation have been warned by national marketing companies to “be mindful of the revolution” or else risk inciting brand hatred. “You have to respect the maturity young people demonstrated in their role in the revolution,” observers warn.

Alcohol companies in Australia have been given notice that athletic sponsorship contracts in the sport-obsessed nation could soon be going the way of tobacco and the dodo. The Canberra government announced a pilot $25 million sponsorship pool for events seeking alternative funding.

Ads targeting kids to consume obesity-causing foods may soon be outlawed in children’s programming in Estonia. The debate comes after a recent WHO report revealed a strong link between childhood obesity and advertising to kids.

Alcohol advertisers have been targeted in the campaign to combat fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in South Africa. SA is proposing a total ban on liquor advertising across the country as five percent of the school-age population is now listed as having alcohol-induced birth disorders.

Online advertisers may soon face strict new privacy regulations and revenue crunches in Spain and Italy. Lawmakers in those countries are discussing whether or not to categorize the information advertisers collect in web browser cookies as private and therefore not collectable by third parties.

Taiwan’s kid advertisers feel the pressure as the government launches a series of sweeping new regulations outlawing junk food ads directed at children. Lawmakers are also debating a broad junk food tax similar to those already in place on tobacco and alcohol.