Impact of cell phone company advertising on teenagers: influenced but ill-informed (in French only)


Maryse Guénette


Option consommateurs




The cell phone could almost have been invented for teenagers. Its promise of independence and freedom enables them to escape from the confines of their families and hook up with their friends at any time. It is not surprising then, that in recent years cell phone companies – which initially targeted adults – have turned their interest to this clientele. They market products designed to appeal to teens, conduct advertising campaigns intended to entice them, and are forever inventing new ways to win their allegiance. Option consommateurs’ prime interest in this report is the advertising put out by cell phone companies. With this aim in view, Option focused its attention on marketing strategies that target young people. We asked experts in communications, marketing and psychology what strategies companies (particularly cell phone companies) utilize in their attempt to win over teenagers. Option then asked these same experts to analyze a number of ads by five cell phone companies in order to determine whether young consumers were likely to be unduly influenced by them, and why. In an attempt to determine whether the ads provide teenagers with sufficient information to make informed choices, we also analyzed ten from a legal standpoint. In order to understand the young consumers’ point of view, Option also organized six discussion groups that were conducted in Secondary V classes. Option wanted to know if teenagers were influenced by cell phone companies and what they thought of their advertising. In order to discover how well teenagers are treated, especially if they were adequately informed when they decided to get a cell phone, Option also carried out a field investigation. The report ends with recommendations to federal/provincial governments, cell phone companies and to young people and their parents.

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OCA Funded Research
This research received funding support through the Office of Consumer Affairs' Contributions Program.

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Source: Consumer Policy Research Database

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