Apr 04 2010

Born to Buy

Published by at 11:11 pm under Reflection Blog,Uncategorized

We all live in a world immersed in products and the consumption of these products are being targeted to younger and younger children. In Born to Buy, Juliet B Schor examines how marketing to children has evolved in the last century. Guidelines have been put in to place to restrict ad companies from damaging youth with their product placement, but ad companies are made to sell products and continue to more subliminally influence children. Advertisers have created a 360-degree world, “ In which the consumer is ‘constantly bombarded.’ The agency uses the somewhat more delicate term ‘infinite consumer touch point possibilities” (75). So marketers use children’s memory of logos to their advantage to persuade these little consumers.
Kids are taught by these ads the norms they are supposed to fill in society as adults. The problem is advertisers create stereotypes for the different gender roles. “The gender rules have become more subtle. For example boy characters and masculine messages must dominate in ads for any products aimed at boys or both sexes” (45). As we saw in class with the boy and girl commercials, boys had certain toys for them that asserted them as masculine and girl ads that expressed woman femininity. For example, the Barbie ads we watched that were blasted with pink and ideals of their wedding day. These gender issues are not the only problem; another issue is the age compression that takes place, “marketing messages originally designed for older kids and targeting them to younger ones. Age compression includes offering teen products and genres, pitching gratuitous violence-and-under crowd, cultivating brand preferences”(55). This also leads in to the ideals young tweens develop about the idea of cool.
Cool is the advertisers best friend when appealing to kids. “ Part of the genius of cool is its versatility. Cool isn’t only about not being a dork. Cool takes on many incarnations”(47). In the mean girls clip we watched we were able to see the urge to be cool alter the way the teenager felt about herself and it altered the way she acted. “Cool is also associated with an antiadult sensibility, as ads portray kids with attitude, outwitting their teachers and tricking their parents. Finally cool is about the taboo, the dangerous, the forbidden other”(48). Advertisers are pushing a gap between parents/authority and youth. This method of selling anti-authority is much like the way read about in The Conquest of School. Nickelodeon has been revolutionary in the changing of youth marketing by creating a kid only world where adults are seen as ditsy with little or no authority. These morals that tie in to this message also connects to the edginess tweens crave which correlates to the later appeal toward drugs, cigarettes and alcohol. This transcendence of “cool” and “edgy” can call children to want to push limits further and respect authority less as they age.
Schor can see the problems upsetting the youth of the 1990’s, which have been a part of this revolution, as they mature in to adults. “Kids who are constantly exposed to the hyperstimulated world of children’s commercial culture. Marketers claim that the portrayal of loving relationships between kids and products for kids. But in real life, products do not love back”(65). I grew up in the generation Schor describes in Born to Buy and I can see how our need of products has evolved as we continue to grow up. We still cling to the anti-authority that we seen on our televisions. I think my generation will continue to be avid consumers as we age and we will teach our kids the same product spending habits we were allowed to get away with in our youth.

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