Celebrity endorsement is a marketing technique that has a major influence on children. According to Eisend and Langner (2010), society assigns meaning to celebrities; therefore, advertisers choose celebrities based on the meanings that could become symbolic for a product. Celebrities are used in advertisements rather than the plain folks technique, to more heavily influence children. When celebrities are featured in advertisements, the likelihood for a child to want that product is higher than if the advertisement featured ordinary people. Because of celebrity endorsement, children are swayed in the wrong direction of what products to buy.
According to Calvert (2008), celebrity endorsements are used both on television and on the Internet. Children may recognize the fact that they are being targeted using celebrity endorsement, but they may not understand how or in what ways. Tattoos are now a huge rage with young kids because they see more and more celebrities who have them. According to Newsweek’s Setoodeh (2010), some say society can blame it on the pop culture now, because tattoos were not as big of a deal years ago. Celebrities show off their tattoos in movies, award shows on television, the Internet, and in magazines. Calvert (2008) also says that as children start to become aware of the fact that celebrity endorsements are actually persuading them to purchase certain products, they become skeptical about the product and why they are being asked to buy it. Because of this, Calvert (2008) claims that children at the middle school age are more skeptical than younger children because they are more aware of commercial practices. Calvert (2008) also refers to the fact that celebrity endorsements are a concern in our society today because even though some products are being falsely advertised, children still want them.
Angelina Jolie and Megan Fox show off their tattoos at a Red Carpet event. http://images.eonline.com/eol_images/Entire_Site/20071024/425.jolie.fox.102407.jpg
Livingstone and Helsper (2006) claim that media literacy is the ability to recognize, analyze, and interpret different types of advertising across a variety of media. Media literacy is a key factor in whether or not children are aware of the message being relayed to them through advertising. With media literacy and celebrity endorsements, children have to be able to recognize and understand that they want a product only because their favorite celebrity is trying to sell it to them. Whether the product is worthy of buying or not, children still have to have it because they want to buy and use what their favorite celebrity is using. Livingstone and Helsper (2006) also say that children’s age and their development of media literacy is apparent. For example, a child at the age of 13 would better understand why his younger sister wants a certain type of perfume because Brittany Spears is in the commercial, rather than his younger sister who is only six. Livingstone and Helsper (2006) claim there are two factors that determine whether or not media literacy is present in a child’s life; it depends on whether or not the child can recognize advertisements and whether or not they have the ability to pick out persuasive intents in advertisements.
Britney Spears advertises her perfume in this scandalous advertisement.
Children are being influenced in every possible way by celebrity endorsements. Not only do they want what celebrities buy and wear but also what they put on their bodies. The concept of media literacy is very important in whether or not a child understands an advertisement. Because of celebrity endorsements, children are victims of false advertising, without even realizing it. This understanding is important because children should be aware and understand what is being advertised to them, and how they can avoid it. Personally, I do not watch much television. That does not mean I am not being exposed to advertisements; it just means I am lessening my chance of being exposed to false advertising. If children could learn to reduce the availability of celebrity endorsements, than they would not be as susceptible to false advertising.