Media influence begins at a very young age and advertisers are quick to utilise this factor. There is little doubt that when the local brewery advertises on Saturday afternoons that they are not just selling beer, they are grooming the next generation of customers. According to marketing researchers Maher, Hu, and Kolbe (2006), children as young as 6 years old are able to recall television advertisements with a 90% accuracy rate after seeing a commercial (p 31). At this tender and impressionable age, advertising can substantially influence a child's future willingness to drink or become engaged to a product's branding. Any producer that may have an agenda can just as easily sway them politically or socially.
While some media outlets use sensationalism to attract attention and sway ideas, advertisers have been using sex to sell products for years. If the media did not have the power to sway opinions and preferences, the advertising business would not be the multi-billion pound business it is today. Getting to the consumer's feelings means portraying a relationship with their culture and becoming more acceptable. Getting to know the culture and what makes it react prompted one ad executive to remark, "Find out why people join cults and apply that knowledge to brands" (Goodman & Dretzin, 2004). Frank Luntz, political advertising specialist says there is nothing in his ads that is about political substance. He says, "Everything in here has a relationship to pop culture" (Goodman & Dretzin, 2004). The advertiser's vehicle to success is getting the culture to connect with the brand without knowing the product, and if it didn't work they would find another way to do it.
Selling fashion and pop culture is driven by the media. People do not buy fashion; it is sold to them with hard sell tactics. The sexual norms that are linked to the fashion are also purveyed upon the unsuspecting public. While boys' magazines tend to focus on sports and male activities, girls' magazines portray "an ideology drawn heavily from their cosmetics and other fashion advertisers' agendas" (Brown, 2001, p.45). This puts popular magazines such as Seventeen in the position of informing girls on how to be attractive to boys and their articles are much more likely to have a sexual theme. Teenage girls become obsessed with trying to attain the perfect sexual body and image as dictated by advertisers.
For teenage girls magazines may be one of the biggest influences on their fashion, culture, and sexuality. While critics denounce the damage that unrealistic body image portrayals convey on young women, these media sources also provide a positive service. In a sampling of 83 male and female participants from 4 major US cities, it was found that teenagers are reading more than just the racy stories. Participants reported seeing numerous articles in magazines dealing with reproductive health issues such as AIDS, HIV, condom use, birth control, and pregnancy (Brown, 2001, p.177). They cited the feeling of confidentiality they felt when consulting a magazine and considered it a credible source. As much as the media can push people to violate their own ethics, it can also promote an atmosphere of trust.
While magazines have influenced sexuality, video games have influenced other aspects of social values. Their influence on children has been