Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 28, No. 2. 1965.
New Zealand is a great believer in protection as a cure for all evils, and it seems that protection is a device which, if correctly applied, need know no limits.
In Christchurch recently the Reverend L. N. Morris, preaching at a youth service, said that big business has realised that teenagers have the greatest spending potential of any section of the community, and that demand is created by subtle, and often unscrupulous, advertising.
He cited such examples as the toothpaste advertisement, where the maid with halitosis loses out on the young man with the teeth, and the shirt advertisement which suggests that if your collar is frayed your appeal to the opposite sex is virtually nil.
This is sound observation. No one can honestly deny that these advertisers are out to relieve teenagers of their surplus doubloons. Furthermore, there is an arguable case that this aim is not wholly desirable.
But to the Reverend Morris, this problem is serious, and his thoughts, like those of so many others, turn to protection as a cure, He advocates that the country adopt:
A comprehensive training programme, by those qualified to teach, on the use of money and leisure, together with a course on learning to live and learning to serve;
A law to stop teenagers from opening credit accounts and buying with hire-purchase facilities;
A clamp-down on untruthful and unrealistic advertising;
A system of compulsory saving for all wage-earning teenagers;
A law to make it a criminal offence for a parent to desert the family.
These suggestions (with the exception of the last one, which is outside the scope of this discussion) are as futile as they are novel. Imagine the position if these proposals were adopted. Teenagers would be coddled, secure from unscrupulous advertisers. They would be forced to save, and they would not be able to obtain credit. But on leaving the teenage ranks, they would be subjected to all these pressures, and would be quite unprepared to meet them.
If "untruthful and unscrupulous" advertising were banned, woe betide those of the rising generation who leave this country and are subjected to the untruthful and unrealistic advertising of other countries whose efforts are on a far grander scale than anything present here. Unprepared and uncomprehending, they would be easy meat for big business, which would, in no time at all, have them immersed up to the eyebrows in hire-purchase payments for goods which they did not want and could not afford.
Let it be said once and for all that protection is no cure for anything. The person who sees the problem and can overcome it is far more worthy than the person who, for whatever reason, has never seen the problem. And relating this to advertising, who can deny that the cost of a tube of toothpaste or a few shirts is a small price to pay for a lot of knowledge gained?