Purpose: To investigate whether adolescent readers attend to responsibility or moderation messages (e.g., "drink responsibly") included in magazine advertisements for alcoholic beverages and to assess the association between attention and the ability to accurately recall the content of these messages.
Methods: An integrated head-eye tracking system (ASL Eye-TRAC 6000) was used to measure the eye movements, including fixations and fixation duration, of a group of 63 adolescents (ages 12-14 years) as they viewed six print advertisements for alcoholic beverages. Immediately after the eye-tracking sessions, participants completed a masked-recall exercise.
Results: Overall, the responsibility or moderation messages were the least frequently viewed textual or visual areas of the advertisements. Participants spent an average of only .35 seconds, or 7% of the total viewing time, fixating on each responsibility message. Beverage bottles, product logos, and cartoon illustrations were the most frequently viewed elements of the advertisements. Among those participants who fixated at least once on an advertisement's warning message, only a relatively small percentage were able to recall its general concept or restate it verbatim in the masked recall test.
Conclusions: Voluntary responsibility or moderation messages failed to capture the attention of teenagers who participated in this study and need to be typographically modified to be more effective.