Advertising is a force that can be used create false needs. I wonder in a media saturated world forever exponentially growing – is it possible for advertising to remain creative and effective without encouraging greed?
I see my six year old daughter (part of a “golden” demographic group that represents hundreds of billions of dollars of spending power… i.e. children) marketed to in every corner of her existence. It makes me ponder.
I read about a planner explaining the story of researching the target audience for a lollipop commercial. The target was kids aged five to twelve, but her research had shown that there are sharp divisions within that group. Five- and six-year olds like bright, bold colors and “busy” things to look at. Seven- to nine- year olds like funny sounding words they can repeat. Bobbley Wobbeley, Tootey Fruitey. Ten- to twelve-year olds like seeing adults in foolish situations, because it makes them feel smarter and more in control…
She showed the client the commercial based on her findings and it unsurprisingly featured a bumbling, clumsy adult in a busy, colorful setting, talking about the lollipop using – you guessed it – funny sounding words. Bobbley Wobbeley, Tootey Fruitey. And, she proudly stated, kids bought up the lollipops… those proverbial kids in that branding candy store…
Armed with sophisticated tools the battle for kid’s – and by extension their parent’s money – is pretty one sided. Not so pretty at all.
Kids as young as three ask for brand names. babies six months old recognize corporate logos… children can not distinguish between advertising and other types of information. So it is really not possible to market to kids without, dare we all admit it, being manipulative?
Is it a surprise that over 90% of teen girls say shopping is their favorite activity? We all complain how materialistic the young are, yet we somehow refuse to see the connection between their values and our marketing methodologies….
Why blame the victim when the responsibility is on us? Is it unrealistic to expect us to take radical action and, say, ban advertising to kids under 12? You become a teen and get your license to be marketed to. Yeah, I know, it’s way too Twilight Zone right? … but what do we do?
In civil society we must put the welfare of children, of our future, ahead of economic benefit. Americana, look at and follow the lead of Sweden, Denmark, Norway and my old and dearly missed province of Quebec, Canada.
Those who could implement changes probably stopped reading this a long time ago. “He’s nuts, an idealist” they say… well, sure, you are so invested in risk and heaps of fear to make any changes, right? But long ago a world once existed without brands… whereas today brands have risen and effectively become stalking horses for international capitalism… most of the world’s best known brands are American – and revolving around these brands are the worries or human rights abuses, sweat shop labor (that those anti-globalists love to put on there placards) and environmental damage. (here I sit at Starbucks in Malibu in January in 85 degree weather… just sayin’). No wonder brands seem bad, even repulsive…
BUT DON’T GET ME WRONG! I LOVE ADVERTISING: I rub shoulders with some of the coolest, smartest, funniest, kindest, most creative and culturally alive people alive.
Advertising is about creating something and sharing it with the world – but my monthly niche mag Adbusters remains a constant reminder of the paradox of advertising and the dangers embedded deep beneath it’s sheen and veneer… when 27% of households making over $100,000 say they can’t afford everything they need it makes you wonder: how much is advertising responsible for this?
Sadly to a large extent it’s not who you are, but what you own… and now I’ve written all this shit down I am not editing it, just publishing for a minute audience who maybe – to an extent – give a damn….