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Kids speak out on celebrity endorsements:

Kids and teens say that celebrity endorsement of unhealthy food & beverage brands influences them.
By Motherpedia
Date: December 06 2013
Editor Rating:

Celebrity-endorsed food and beverage advertising campaigns are emotionally and effectively driving young people to product consumption. That’s the conclusion of a US study commissioned by the WAT-AAH! Foundation in conjunction with Fit Kids.  

The study shows the impact and influence the commercials and celebrities have on children and teenagers as well as how these endorsements raised troubling concerns among them. 

"If the celebrities know these products are bad for us, why are they promoting it ...  Most of the time, celebrities don't care about the product they only care about getting promoted or getting money."

The young people surveyed in the study believed that commercials use powerful celebrities specifically to target kids and teens, contrary to what food and beverage brands claim about their intended audience.  

The study showed that commercials featuring celebrities such as Beyonce, LeBron James, Taylor Swift, Peyton Manning, Dwayne Wade and others are taken notice of as they are strongly revered by kids and teens and are often considered as role models.

“Successful, wealthy, champions, creative, amazing, family-oriented, cool, attractive and smart …” are some of the words used to describe them.

Because of this association, they admitted that their age group is the most susceptible to celebrity advertising and most likely to take action or try the products purely because of the celebrities' appearance in the ad. Examples of their responses include:

"When I first saw LeBron James (Sprite commercial), I was like 'wow.' I would probably buy it because he's a celebrity and he's my role model."

"The commercial reminded me of Michael Jackson. Kids who don't drink Pepsi will drink it now after seeing Beyonce."

"Diet Coke was trying to sway us to buy their product because if you see Taylor Swift drinking it, it's going to make you want to drink it too."

"Asking kids what they think? What a concept!" says Professor Marion Nestle, Head of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University.

"The results of this study clearly show how the use of celebrities to promote foods and drinks influences kids' desire for the products. This is reason enough to stop the practice. The study also shows that when kids are asked to take a good hard look at why food and beverage companies use celebrities, their opinions change," she says.

After a discussion on the celebrities' motivation for the endorsement and the health effects of the products advertised, the children's purchase intent dropped significantly from 77% to 23%.

"They make you believe that as soon as you drink it, you supposed to turn into superman and do all these great things. But it is not actually true. It can make you unhealthy."

A majority of the children also questioned the likelihood that celebrities consume the products they are endorsing on a regular basis.

"I think its a little weird that they (LeBron James, Dwight Howard) are fighting over McDonald's. You wouldn't expect a fit person to eat McDonald's because they probably try to stay healthy to play the sport they play." 

"These commercials make me think that I really can't trust them."

Despite the children's concerns, they admitted to having enjoyed watching the commercials and believed that the celebrities should repurpose their power and influence for the betterment of kids and their fans. 

"If you make commercials, do it for healthy products like vegetables, fruits, water or milk, make it as fun and cool as your Sprite commercial (LeBron James)."

"If you have to make these commercials for money and publicity, tell us not to eat or drink too much or tell us about the bad stuff that's in it."

"Kids really look up to these celebrities,” said Rose Cameron, CEO and Founder of the WAT-AAH! Foundation.

“They love to watch them on television and they are significantly influenced by them. The insights these kids shed on what the celebrities themselves can do to turn this health crisis around was inspiring.

"Celebrities could be utilized to promote a healthier agenda, it can make a huge difference. That's what the kids are really saying in this study," she adds.  

Young people aged 8-17 years in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, New Jersey, New York, Washington DC and Virginia were shows eight commercials involving celebrities from the music and/or sports industries.

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