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.
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Stimulus material, purely informative condition (left) versus condition with pictorial framing (right). These stimuli including credence claims and warnings were highlighted in different experimental conditions.
Exp. Condition I Pure Informative Advertisement
Exp. Condition II Pure Informative Advertisement with Warning Label
Exp. Condition III Pictorial Framed Advertisement
Exp. Condition IV Pictorial Framed Advertisement with Warning Label
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Effertz, T., Franke, MK. & Teichert, T. Adolescents’ Assessments of Advertisements for Unhealthy Food: an Example of Warning Labels for Soft Drinks. J Consum Policy 37, 279–299 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10603-013-9248-7
- Marketing to children
- Health warnings
- Understanding of advertising