Journal of Consumer Policy

, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 279–299 | Cite as

Adolescents’ Assessments of Advertisements for Unhealthy Food: an Example of Warning Labels for Soft Drinks

  • Tobias EffertzEmail author
  • Marie-Kristin Franke
  • Thorsten Teichert
Original Paper


The potential of advertising to deceive young adolescents is problematic especially when it results in unhealthy food choices. Health warnings are supposed to raise awareness of the risky nature of a food product. However, these warnings compete for consumer’s attention with other advertising components set by marketers, such as product claims, visual frames, and images. To examine perception, attitudes, and behavioural intentions towards an ad, adolescents were exposed with fictitious soft drink advertisements in an experimental design. Hereby, we systematically varied warning labels and visual frames as key design elements of the advertisement. Results suggest that the effects of warnings on attitudes and purchase intention are mitigated by accompanying advertising elements. A single positive visual cue is sufficient to provoke purchase intentions. Overall, distraction from health warnings peaks in the youngest age groups and decreases with age. Findings raise concerns about how public health regulations on advertisements should be designed when the purpose is to inform especially younger adolescents of possible health risks. We discuss several implications for ethical marketing techniques of food products.


Marketing to children Health warnings Understanding of advertising 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tobias Effertz
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marie-Kristin Franke
    • 2
  • Thorsten Teichert
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute for Commercial Law & EconomicsUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany
  2. 2.University of HamburgHamburgGermany

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