18 mayo 2006

BRANDED: THE BUYING AND SELLING OF TEENAGERS

[The world of advertising is playing an increasingly important part in shaping how teenagers—and younger children—identify themselves, states journalist Alissa Quart. She is a graduate of Brown University and the Columbia School of Journalism. She has written for the New York Times, Lingua Franca, Elle, The Nation, and Salon. She lives in New York City.

In her book Branded: The Buying and Selling of Teenagers, Perseus, 2002 - trad. española: Marcados: La explotación comercial de los adolescentes, Debate, 2004-, Quart discusses how teenagers and younger children are particularly vulnerable to the exploitation of advertising focus groups and trend-spotters who offer a sense of belonging and identity through brand promotion and affiliation.
  • 31 million teens now spend upwards of $153 billion on leisure expenses — clothing, CDs, and makeup — a year. 55% of American high-school seniors work more than three hours a day to earn the money to fulfill their need for stuff.
  • A growing number of high schools are sponsored by corporations. Textbooks regularly mention Oreo cookies and math problems contain Nike logos. Teenagers not only play ball in gyms rimmed with logos but also spend their English classes coming up with advertising slogans for sponsors, all under the auspices of their so-called public schools.
  • In the last two years, cosmetic surgery rates for teens have gone from 1% to 3% of the total 4.6 million surgeries performed each year.
Corporations spend billions of dollars annually to woo teen and pre-teen consumers. Over the last 5-10 years, the research of these groups and their behaviour has become very focused on exactly how best to part them (or their parents) with their money. Alissa Quart takes the reader into the disturbing world of teen marketing, showing how they are taught to market to each other and where adults build careers out of insinuating their way into 'friendships' with teens in order to monitor what they wear, eat, listen to and talk about with each other.

This compelling book looks into the way teens succumb to peer pressure and the constant commercial battering and the young people who fight back, who turn the tables on the cock-sure mega-corporations who so cynically strive to crack the codes of teen cool. These kids prove it isn't necessary to give in to branding, but it is a drop in the water when an entire generation is being raised to consume.

Quart explains that in earlier times teenagers had places in which to play that were free of advertising; their imaginations had more time to develop—they had more time to learn who they were—before being exposed to the grading and judgment which comes with advertising, and which can stunt individual growth. Now, however, marketers routinely pitch their products to children under fourteen. Marketing agents realize that young children are seeking an identity and offer one to them through involvement in defining and promoting "cool" brands.

Trend-spotters spend time at the places children frequent and then recruit the trend-setters to give their opinion of the fashions, bands, or gadgets vying for the limelight. Advertisers also encourage teenagers to "chat up" their favorite recording artists on-line or to their friends. While some teenagers are paid in cash or with products for their consulting, Quart explains that the real motivation for participation is the sense of identity that accompanies it. "I think mostly, though, they're doing it for that sense of being part of something bigger than themselves, and that's sort of the key to my book's argument," says Quart, "that brands are stars in these kids' world, and they want to be part of the stars' entourage."

"Deserves to command wide attention among millions of families....Quart makes a brilliant case...and her book is a necessary warning for parents." (The New York Times)

John Warner reviews Alissa Quart’s book to find a shared past not too dissimilar, and a terrifying prospect that may lie ahead of us all. The Morning News Contributing Writer John Warner is co-author (with Kevin Guilfoile) of My First Presidentiary: A Scrapbook by George W. Bush, and author of Fondling Your Muse: Infallible Advice from a Published Author to the Writerly Aspirant. He teaches at Clemson University.]

#307 Educare Categoria-Educacion

by John Warner
___________

In the Oliver Stone movie Wall Street, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) famously declares that ‘greed is good.’ Gekko, as we can tell by his oily coif and lizardine moniker, is a villain, but his signature quote defined the dominant ethos of the Reagan era. Under Reagan the traditional values of the American dream, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness trickled down into a single shorthand word – ‘prosperity’ – as the corporate jet and penthouse apartment supplanted the family sedan and white picket fence. Greed of the kind Gekko or Michael Milken may have embraced was bad because they were criminals and got caught, but their wealth and the things it bought was offered as a good thing.

Famously, Generation X responded to this ethos by ‘slacking.’ While this is of course a gross overgeneralization, there was for sure a segment of my generation that simply checked out. On the one had, we loved our media, the rise of video games and cable television, and the ever expanding list of ‘things’ that our parents’ money could buy for us. On the other hand, as we aged into early adulthood, the pursuit of these images seemed increasingly empty and above all, hard.

(more)

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