But Mom, Lebron eats McDouble’s

How do professional athletes and celebrities influence the younger generations through advertising endorsements?

Main stream food products such as soda, fast food, and sports drinks have endorsers to promote the brand. Advertisements like commercials on television and internet are obvious methods of this process but famous figures like these also show can inadvertently show support by using the product off screen. But, do they really know what they are sharing to the public, specifically children?

Brands are everywhere whether you consciously address them or not. You notice the brands color, design, slogan, and more than often, the opinion leader. An opinion leader is person who shapes the flow and impact of media messages, in this case, celebrities and professional athletes.

( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5W4_0bwexM )

In February of 2016, Sonic aired a commercial featuring Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder Small Forward and spotlight endorser for the fast food drive-in, showcasing the NBA players new post training snack. Ironically, the commercial is a Durant monologue about his drive and motivation for success, where he rewards himself with greasy chicken burger. By all means, the ad had slight satire, however the message may be taken differently down the age pool. At first thought, it is simply a commercial advertising a well known MVP of the game craving Sonic’s new item. Studies show that when looking more in depth, the exposure trickles down the dietary choices and public opinion of children.

According to Time magazine, in a study of whether or not high profile athletes influenced children eating behaviors, “in 2010, the researchers reported that children ages 12 to 17 saw more athlete-endorsed food and beverage brand commercials than adults”. Kids are familiarized with these public figures and idolize them in any aspect feasible. They don’t know what they want, they only imitate the behavior and beliefs of the superstars. The spiral of silence theory comes to mind with this topics because the dominant opinion of the public, including famous icons, determines what is shown in the media. So if David Beckham is only shown eating Burger King and Beyonce drinking Pepsi, kids are going to flee to those businesses and fall into the trap.

Prevention Institution, an organization committed to improve the health and quality of life, has provided some powerful stats:

  • Food and beverage industry’s spend $2 billion per year on marketing
  • Kids watch an average of about ten food related ads per day (4,000/year)
  • 40% of children’s diets are from added sugars and unhealthy fats
  • children exposed to television content with food advertising, they consumed 45 percent more food than children exposed to content with non-food adverting

With great power comes great responsibility, and these pop culture icons underestimate those powers. No matter how much “McSales” these endorsements are bringing in, it must be monitored the amount of exposure our youth has when it comes to poor eating decisions. Late night commercials and fun montages only seem to encourage bad habits and a sense of wrongful idolization. The influence of healthy, confidence building, and smart decision making advertisements could potentially change the future of our children.