Consumer or Consumed - your life is cheap !

I dont know why I bother. When did we start marketing so blatantly and directly to kids ? How low can popular culture go ? Do parents really want their kids listening to this corporate whore - Britney Spears ? I cant take this anymore.

Maybe this press release is old, but I just happened upon it

This video clip is probably not for those of you with low bandwidth, but when did we decide it was okay to encourage little kids to “build credit” ?

I think this goes much deeper than selling your own products - I mean, this is like training for the acquisition of debt ! Now Britney tells her little “fans” that they cant just be happy with her posters, t-shirts, magazines, cd’s - but now they need to shop at the same stores, use the same email host (with “special offers” galore, no doubt), ultimatley building a dependance on things - as if there isnt enough pressure for that without this type of garbage !
Consumer or consumed your life is cheap - “Keep on Rotting in the Free World” - Carcass

So what? It’s advertising. Although you may think it’s stupid (and I agree), it’s nothing to get worked up over. Do you think that the people who are interested in watching Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake talk about what they want to buy and where to shop actually have credit cards to buy this stuff? Nope, only the parents, and if they let there kids buy something just because some dumbass boyband and Britney Spears say they should, they shouldn’t have kids.

Baba, I’m gonna get my last booey that you don’t have a kid. Or if you do, it hasn’t learned how to ask you for stuff yet. My son watches no commercial TV, hears almost no commercials on the radio, and hasn’t yet begun surfing the net. Yet from pre-school to today (he’s just finished first grade) he comes home from school wanting just about everything. This could potentially be a long and dull story so let me say simply two things: 1) it’s easy to think that as a parent you’re going to opt out of commercial culture; but in practice it’s very hard to do without making life tough on your child; 2) Lockfist has a valid point. The only thing I’d add to Lock is that children of the Britney-loving age have been marketed to for a long time (though obviously not on the internet). What I find scary is the way new cable networks have cropped up marketing products to toddlers. These days it’s never too soon to start “branding” the young.


Well since the 50’s they’ve practically made advertisement a science. When GI Joe was introduce in…1963 I think…they had focus groups on how to market it to boys. They had to have a focus group because nobody was sure that boys would play with a do-- uh, action figure. Actually they specifically made sure everyone in the company referred to it as an action figure and not a doll.


Teens have a lot of money these days. I forget how many billions of dollars they spend each year but it is quite a lot. So advertisers are going to attempt to grab as much of that market as possible. Hopefully parents will be able to control the amount of money their kids have and teach them how to spend it responsibly.


Mandelstam, I am glad to get the perspective of a parent. I think this type of marketing is burrowing deeper into the mind of a child then say, GI Joe did in the 50’s.

I recall wanting everything that had to do with Michael Jackson. I remember wanting to spend every last quarter on skee-ball so I could win a prize worth 1/100th of the money I paid on the tickets.

Michael Jackson did an add for Pepsi as well. But I do not recall Michael Jackson making a direct marketing campaign to encourage me to purchase his “favorite” products. Nor do I recall the ease with which I could earn “free credits” toward the purchase of other goods.

The entire premise of the Briteny Spears camping is much more sinister than it appears. The goal of a campaign like this is to ingrain the consumer culture and “value” of continuous buying in kids - while simply surfing the 'net. To reduce the ability of children to discern when or how they are being manipulated.

Sure, I begged my mother for Star Wars toys but these days we have entire movies devoted to selling products. Toy Story I & II, Pokemon, the list goes on and on. Its different today because these companies are catering directly to children - literally giving candy to the baby ! Not to mention that Briteny runs ad campaigns with lewd sexual themes (but that is a different topic).

I’d like to hear from more parents on this topic.

I really don’t understand why it would shock anyone to realize that our children are being exploited for profit. Many of us have encouraged it. Everyday on this board we see adults defending “free market concepts”. This is nothing more than capitalism and free markets at work. What’s funny about this issue is that people who are strongly behind behind fair, free and open competition do not seem to realize that it often comes at a price they did not expect. We can blame a lot of things for the so called “break down” of our society but to ignore the fact that “marketing” plays a role is a case of selective understanding. I personally think that our culture of blatant consumerism holds a large part of the responsibility. Yet many would blame things like a lack of faith in God, or the ease of obtaining a divorce, or the Gay rights movement, or African American culture, any number of things that would not effect us nearly as pervasively.

Mandalstam is also right. You cannot completely shield your children from society. Children, like adults are often much more strongly effected by the actions of their peers. All you need do in order to expose your child to the world is send them out in it. Hence the folks that attempt to avoid that by schooling at home and private education. The problem is that you cannot maintain the isolation forever. Eventually most everyone will have to get out there.


So does everyone on this board like to point there fingers at a scapegoat, or just on this post? It’s really so simple, kids can’t buy something without getting money from there parents. If the parents give the kids money to buy Pokemon or Toy Story toys or Britney Spears crap, then the parents feel that there’s no problem with it. The movies geared towards kids aren’t taking advantage of kids, but if anything they’re taking advantage of the parents who just can’t say “No.” And if the kid does buy Pokemon toys or whatever they buy these days, then is it the end of the world? Are the kids one with Satan, or on there way to emotional downfall? I’m sure all of you old timers have owned GI Joes or Barbie dolls, and I’m sure you all turned out to be law abiding citizens. Although they may have taken away some of your common sense…

Needs2, just for the record, I never have and never will tout “free market concepts”: I neither believe that we have free trade nor that we need it (by which I mean that governments do and must regulate capitalism; it’s just a question of regulating it in the right way and for the right reasons).

Baba, to repeat myself, it’s so obvious that you don’t have children. You can’t always just so “No” to your kids (unless you want to raise your kids like the dad in American Beauty. You have to a) choose your battles and b) respect your child’s feelings and his/her need to fit in with and relate to his peers.

When the Pokemon craze hit my son’s pre-school I was adamantly opposed. I even tried to get other parents to agree to ban the cards (and eventually the cards were banned by the staff since thefts, vandalism and arguments were taking place.) In the meantime Hasbro (owner of Pokemon) was bragging to the trade press about how they’d finally found a way to market to 5-year-olds as though they were teenagers. But one of the things that I discovered is that I could not win by denying something to my son that he wanted and that most other kids had. My son pays for all of his cards (and tons of other stuff) out of his allowance; and when he’s disappointed that a certain rare card isn’t in the pack he’s just saved up for, I explain to him that Hasbro does that to him on purpose because they want more of his money. It’s a tough lesson that he needs learn.

Although I’m in many ways disgusted by the Pokemon phenomenon as well as many other hypercommercialized aspects of our culture, I’m not at all sorry that I respected my son’s decision to be a Pokemon consumer. For him and his friends it’s a kind of idiom–strange kids at airport bond in seconds over Pokemon. But, at the same time, I’ve had to teach him not to boast about his possessions, not to understand power in the lame way that the Pokemon game encourages, etc. etc. I can only imagine what life would be like if he were also watching TV shows with commercials in addition to learning about stuff from his friends.

Am I “scapegoating” Hasbro? No–I’m criticizing them just as Lockfist was criticizing the Britney shopping fiasco. The problem isn’t that we are scapegoating but that you, like many Americans, have an unrealistic perception of just how much autonomy individuals have a complex mass society. We like to believe that we’re an “Army of One.” It’s just not true. And that’s why it would be really great if concerned people could work together to enforce rules that were passed a long time ago about advertising to children; to keep brand names out of public schools; to prevent the internet from going the way of other mass media, etc. etc. This isn’t scapegoating; it’s citizenship.

Oh, and watch who you’re calling an “oldtimer.” :wink:

Manny…I didn’t “accuse” you of touting free market concepts. I was just agreeing with you about how our children are influenced. I have a couple myself. No it was others that I was referring too, sorry if you didn’t understand me. I did give you a separate paragraph. (BTW…I never bothered to learn how to pull “quotes” and don’t particularily like them, they make for some mighty long posts.)


Why are parents so afraid to say “no” to kids? You can say no without being a disciplinarian ogre. I don’t have kids either but I’ll be damned if I’ll let a 6 yr old tell me how to spend money.

You could also give your kid an allowence until their old enough to get a job. It’s a good lesson for life. That way they can buy stuff they “need” to fit in with their peers but they also learn that you aren’t a bottomless money machine.

If you give in whenever your kids complain, they soon learn that all they need to do to get their way is bitch and moan long enough.

Whether the individual is washed out in a sea of corporate advertising which he supported with his purchases or a sea of regulation which he supported with his votes (or his apathy) there is no doubt that in a sufficiently populated society individuals will be “attacked” on all sides by something they indirectly caused.

There is nothing wrong marketing stuff for children. Let us pause for a moment here to get a handle on things.

  1. People sell stuff to make money
  2. (1) couldn’t happen if people didn’t want stuff to begin with
  3. Not all sellers have stuff that all buyers want
  4. Advertise to help influence decisions made about consumption

Kids don’t figure into it at all, except indirectly. The parent spend the money, the kinds influence what the parents buiy them (what, before pokemon kids never begged mom and dad for something?). Why wouldn’t you market products to kids? Hell, I’ve known adults who found pokemon intolxicating. Remember beanie babies? Is Gerber “maliciously” putting cute babies on the TV screen? Was Nintendo’s Pokemon deliberately made to be a mass marketing phenomenon (answer: no, it was just another video game that caught on well and, like all things, took off in its own direction).

You’ll get rid of “consume or be consumed” when you stop wanting stuff and become a monk somewhere. Until then, I think there isn’t much to do. This is what we asked for, and I for one like it.

I do hate Britney Spears though.

mssmith, isn’t it somewhat telling that the people with kids agree with one another and only the ones without any have a different view? I’m not “afraid” of saying “no” to my son: I say “no” to my son about 50 times a day. If you re-read my post on Pokemon you’ll see that my point was that, in that instance, thanks to the marketing blitz that Pokemon was and is, saying “no” to Pokemon would have been self-defeating.

eris, I’m glad that you recognize the social impact of legislation, marketing, etc. But your views on advertising are contradictory to everything that has been written on the subject. It is simply not the case that “Kids don’t figure into it at all, except indirectly.” Or, if you prefer, the “indirect” impact is huge. The reason advertisers are so eager to market to kids is that it’s been proven that you can begin to develop brand awareness at a very early age.
As to Pokemon: I think you’ll find that it began as a Japanese TV show, not as a game. Nintendo may not have realized just how successful they would be, but the idea had been pitched to them (and I think to Wizards of the Coast: pre-Hasbro owners of the card merchandise) for years. Anyone who’s ever bought Barney stuff, or Superman stuff for his/her kid will recognize the marketing potential of a concept that has, literally, hundreds of things you need to buy. Did you ever notice the tagline for Pokemon? GOTTA CATCH 'EM ALL. No one is going to convince me that just developed by accident.

If you’re interested I can post a link about advertising to toddlers and young kids, but right now I don’t have time to find it.

Needs2, I knew you weren’t accusing me; sorry if I sounded counter-accusatory. I just wanted to distuinguish myself from the gospel of free trade.

You, sir or madam, are an unsung genius. Well, I just sung you, so not anymore.

Not only does the avalanche of marketing directed towards kids make them consumerist drones, it also makes them stupid, because overexposure to persuasion ruins one’s capacity to think analytically. Every argument is seen as a popularity contest; the winner is the one who shouts the loudest and most often; decisions no longer require logical underpinnings but merely become expressions of preferences. It doesn’t matter whether you’re right or wrong, only that you express yourself.

I’m still searching for a single example of an advertisement that makes factual claims yet is not either utterly false nor open to some serious and obvious criticism. When this form of argumentation is accepted as sufficient grounds for decision-making, no wonder kids can’t remember what the capital of Texas is. Who cares? The main thing is that Texas is cool, because cowboys live there!

How can you teach a kid that it’s wrong to lie when all he hears all day long is the “little white lies” and evasiveness of ad copywriters? You’re trying to make a point, but there are these annoying little “facts” that are getting in the way. Do you reconsider your position? Hell no, just omit the facts, and if someone forces you to include them, print them in type so fine and plain that they can’t be distinguished from a loose hair on the page.

Pardon the rant. I have rather strong feelings on this topic :mad:

Of course. Humans are impressionable at a young age, period. Were we hoping the advertisers never caught on to this? Think they don’t procreate? We use the impressionability of youth, in theory, to instill our values in them so they can carry on the good name and make the world a beter place, or whatever. Or, in some cases, to sell shit to them for a lifetime. The churches and parents have been doing this for recorded history.

Brand loyalty is something companies spend years accomplishing in adults. And not everything can be marketed toward kids (cars for example). But if a child is the intended recipient, that’s who is going to recieve the advertising. I don’t see it as shocking whatsoever. Advertisers aren’t there to put money in your pocket to buy a product, but the desire in your brain to get it. You’ll figure out things from there. And, if you are a kid, then you’ll use whatever tactics you have available to get other people’s money spent your way. Democracy in action? :slight_smile:

Any links you had would be appreciated, especially any that had any sort of timeline, showing trends in child advertising versus brand loyalty. Being relatively young (25 right now) I wonder how I fit into any group who has been trained by advertisers.

My brand loyalty extends to Stephen King, Wes Craven, Clive Barker, and John Carpenter. But they don’t, AFAIK, advertise to kids. (unless we mean high school kids who may well have jobs, in which case why wouldn’t they be advertised to (at?))

“Not only does the avalanche of marketing directed towards kids make them consumerist drones, it also makes them stupid, because overexposure to persuasion ruins one’s capacity to think analytically.”

That’s absurd. Disney has basically used there movies as advertisements for a very long time, so that would make anyone at or under the age of 45 “stupid”. I’ve seen countless toys, TV series, plays, etc… spawn from popular Disney flicks that kids just eat up, just like Pokeman. And I see very little difference between sports cards and the whole Pokeman thing (except sports cards can continue to be interesting past the age of 10, and Pokeman will fade out like the whole pogs thing, whereas sports cards will be here for a long time), and sports cards have been popular since the late 40’s.
And in defense of the companies, if there were no advertisements for child-geared products, there would basically be no profit in making them. That results in a lot of bored 2-13 olds, which I’d imagine a lot of parents wouldn’t like seeing.

And I called you all oldtimers because that’s what most of you all are to an 18 year old. Don’t you just envy my youth?

Hmmm…maybe we are. After all, if we were how would we know…?


I find this statment pretty disturbing. Kids would be bored if they had to rely on…what?..their family? other kids? books? wooden blocks? the whole fucking world? for entertainment? How would they survive?


If, in your youth, you think the world would be a boring place without corporate manufactured entertainment, then, no.