News Stories

Dog Food Ads for Dogs

Many people watch TV with their dog on the couch beside them (we once had a friend whose dog would growl whenever the villain came on the show), so dog food companies have come up with the idea of making pet food commercials FOR pets (let's just hope that dog food isn't imported from China!)

In the October 1-2 edition of the Financial Times, Louise Lucas writes: "The TV ads come complete with squeaks, high frequency tones and high pitched pings, all of which are designed to send dogs into such a frenzy that indulgent owners rush out and buy (the product)."

Meanwhile, ads placed in movies and on TV shows (where the camera zooms in to show that the protagonist is driving a Chevrolet, for instance) are an insidious form of advertising called "product placement." The verdict is still out on whether or not violent videos games inspire kids to act out in violent ways (although most experts think they do), but those of us who worry about these games can be glad about one thing, anyway: the ads that are embedded in them DO NOT work!

Women in particular respond negatively to ads placed in violent video games. Communications expert Jorge Pena says, "Although violent video games are very popular and can reach a young, highly engaged audience, their effectiveness as an advertising medium is questionable. Our study demonstrates that featured violence diminishes brand memory and primes more negative attitudes toward the brand." The researchers believe violent content in video games not only draws players' attention, but diverts it from other sources of information in the game, thus limiting players' mental capacity to process in-game ads. Additionally, the suggestion of violence in the form of blood and gore results in players subconsciously linking negative attributes to in-game ads. This echoes the way violent TV programs hamper ad recall relative to nonviolent TV programs, according to previous studies.

These games may stimulate boys to act badly, but they're not all bad: playing these games could help improve the vision of adults with lazy eye. Patients with this condition who spent 40 hours playing the games reported increased depth perception and visual sharpness. In LiveScience.com, Charles Q. Choi quotes optometrist Roger Li as saying, "I was very surprised by this finding--I didn't expect to see this type of improvement." But researchers will use customized video games that are nonviolent and child-friendly to help cure lazy eye. Choi quotes Li as saying, "We didn't think it was a good idea to have a 5-year-old blowing things up."

And remembering ads? Nope. Researcher Seung-Chul Yoo says, "Advertising campaign planners would do better to spend their budget on ads embedded in nonviolent video games than in ads placed within violent video games, particularly if they are trying to reach women."

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