Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Born To Buy

Born To Buy

Adult nonfiction
"I am doing the most horrible thing in the world...We are
targeting kids too young with too many inappropriate things. It's not
worth the almighty buck."
I am guessing that when you read that quote above out of context
you probably guessed that Mary Prescott is involved in setting
youngsters up with substances that are illicit or at least banned for
the under 18 or under 21 crowd. This marketing researcher (who used a
pseudonym when quoted) is one of the many people Juliet B. Schor cites
in her eye opening and highly readable Born To Buy.
Schor, a college professor and mother, wanted to learn about the
tactics and history of marketing to children. The wide research she
cast included attending presentations, interviewing marketers and
their critics, reading trade literature, surveying children, and
interviewing parents in depth. From these divergent threads she
weaves a highly compelling and cogent narrative. Among other things
you will learn:
*how marketers have gone from wooing parents to treating them (and
other adults) commercially as inept, behind the timed preventers of
fun who the child must pester endlessly to obtain the product;
*how under the concept KAGOY (Kids Are Getting Older Younger)
marketers are targeting kids as young as six with products and
entertainment formerly targeted to teens;
*how commercial content has come to infiltrate every aspect of
children's lives, even Girl Scouts, schools, and personal peer
*how industry blames parents for allowing this all to happen (we could
just say no) while relentlessly undermining this ability by teaching
kids how to outmanuver us...
Schor knows that very few parents can protect even our own
children from the inundation of commercial content in today's world.
Fortunately her last chapter, Decommercializing Childhood, discusses
ways all facets of society must work together to achieve this most
worthy goal. What I like is that she goes beyond the obvious to
embrace ideas like reclaiming outdoor space for children. Her
resources are very useful. And one of the blurbs on the back actually
sums the book up neatly. (Imagine that!) Author Bill McKibben wrote,
"There must be a special circle of hell designed for those who came up
with the notion of marketing to young kids, and if so, Juliet Schor is
its Dante--this is a tremendous book, in the tradition of Fast Food
On a personal note, I had a most excellent Easter despite the fresh
snow and cold temps. I started off helping to serve, hostess, and
clean up after a church breakfast. The worshippers who made it
through the outside sunrise service were delighted to get appetizing
food and warm beverages. Then I spent the afternoon with the extended
A great big shout out goes out to the fine folks with whom I celebrated.
Julia Emily Hathaway

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