The media is to blame for economic mess?
One of my favorite Web sites is http://www.mediabuyerplanner.com as it has a wealth of current media news culled from a variety of sources.
Here's a story from today that blew me away:
Americans Blame Ad Agencies, Media for Economic Crisis
Two-thirds of Americans (66%) believe ad agencies have at least some responsibility for the current economic crisis because they caused people to buy things they couldn’t afford, according to findings from a Harris Interactive poll completed earlier this month.
The media is not far behind ad agencies when it comes to responsibility, according to (pdf) the survey (via Marketing Charts). 59% say print media - such as newspapers and magazines - deserve at last some responsibility for the economic crisis, while 56% assign at least some of the blame to news and information websites.
55% of Americans say talk shows on TV or radio, cable news programs (54%) and network and local news programs (53%) all have at least some responsibility, also because they caused people to buy things they couldn’t afford, Harris said.
A significant number of Americans also are willing to look at factors closer to home. Nearly half (46%) assign some of the blame to their friends and family, though the majority of Americans (54%) still say their personal circle of influence bears no responsibility.
The poll also found an age divide over who is to blame for the economic crisis, Harris reported. People ages 55+ are more likely to blame the five media categories and the advertising agencies. In contrast, those ages 18-34 are less likely to say these six groups have at least some responsibility and are more likely to blame their friends and family.
For example, 75% of the older age group say advertising agencies have at least some responsibility compared to 60% of 18-34 year olds. When it comes to print media, 67% of those ages 55+ say they have at least some responsibility while just half of the younger age group say print media has at least some responsibility.
About the survey: This Harris Poll was conducted online within the US between March 31 and April 1, 2009 among 2,220 adults (ages 18+) who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.
So, advertising vehicles somehow held guns to the collective head of America and told them to spend needlessly? Popular culture that is reflected through the media certainly has much to do with encouraging people to spend money on various categories of merchandise – entertainment, fashion, etc.
But should we blame the messenger for the recipient accepting and embracing the message? Should the messenger be censoring messages to prevent someone from spending money he or she doesn't have?
I don't think so. Advertising even done in a totally legitimate way still requires consumers to think about claims and offers and evaluate them accordingly.
We got in this mess through a variety of actions – and inactions– from government and big business as well as lack of attention from voters/consumers. No advertiser "made" someone buy a house or a car they couldn't afford.
© 2009 by Gordon Michael Dobbs