Every day we, as consumers, are exposed to between 3,000 and 20,000 marketing messages. However, after research David Lamourex surmised that approximately 5% of these messages actually enter our consciousness. So what happens when one of those messages happens to be a very blunt Anti Teen-Pregnancy campaign? People definitely stop and take notice, especially when almost 4000 posters are situated all over New York City!
The campaign focuses on four main images, all denoting children from different cultures but appearing to be in the same distressed state. These pictures are then juxtaposed next to the text that, due to the font and message itself, looks to be ‘from the mouths of babes’ or a poster in a kindergarten room.
The campaign’s developer, the New York City’s Human Resource Administration (HRA), have been both condemned and praised for the advertisements with 3 main perspectives arising based on the individuals own experiences or awareness of teen pregnancy.
The dominant reading: This view is agreeing with the message presented and understanding the necessity of the campaign. As one interviewee from NYC Today said: “It’s brutally honest and that’s what we need. It’s a wake up call.”
The alternate reading: Questions have arisen to whether teens will actually take notice of these ads or even if this ‘scaring’ tactic will work. As blogger Panama Jackson states:
“… kids are not reading those ads thinking about how being a teenage mother is going to ruin their life … I’d wager that any teenager who cared about those ads, cared before the ads showed up and they’re just reinforcing what they already know”.
The resistant reading: However, the flip side is that these ads are stereotyping teen mothers and their partners. In particular, Geneva Farrow young mother and founder of ‘A Young Mother’s Dream’ mentoring program stated “(the ad) perpetuates a stereotype that teen mums are not successful … there are many teen mums who defy the odds.”
But while this advertisement blatantly describes the perils of teen pregnancy, TV shows such as ’16 and Pregnant’ seem to glorify the situation, making celebrities out of the young mums. So does the Western world have a skewed or distorted view of the topic, and if so, will these ads be effective for their intended audience?
Time will tell.
Creative Blog, 10 Controversial Ad Campaigns, http://www.creativebloq.com/advertising/10-controversial-ad-campaigns-2013-12135346 Future publishing Ltd, (Accessed 22nd March 2014)
Youtube, Do NYC anti-pregnancy ads go too far? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4RttLggUn_8, (accessed 24th March 2014)
Skirwk.com.au Interactive Schooling, Readings, http://www.skwirk.com/p-c_s-54_u-245_t-637_c-2365/readings-alternative-dominant-resistant/nsw/readings-alternative-dominant-resistant/skills-by-mode-reading-and-writing/required-skills-and-knowledge-concept (Accessed 24th of March 2014)
Very Smart Brothas, The Kerfuffle with the New York City’s Anti Teen Pregnancy Ad, WordPress, http://verysmartbrothas.com/the-kerfluffle-with-new-york-citys-anti-teen-pregnancy-ads/ (Accessed 24th of March 2014)