Born To Buy
When I was in about 5th grade, my school (a small, private, Lutheran school, in Bay City MI, with about 100 students in eight grades) began to offer McDonalds as a school lunch once a week. Of course I probably thought it was great then, but as I look back on it now, I wonder what were the adults thinking? Did no parents complain? Why not? Did the teachers not see anything wrong with this? Why not? Now that I am older and see the obvious damage that fast food does, I am baffled by the lack of outrage about this decision. But that was a different time, and people have more information now, so perhaps the adults of that time can be forgiven. I can't say the same for adults of this time of course, but that is not what I want to write about.
Juliet Schor, economist, sociologist, best selling author, and hero, has a new book out. Born to Buy, about the marketing attack on children. If you are a parent, or think there is even a remote chance you may become one, I urge you to at least listen to this interview with her on NPR's Diane Rehm Show this week.
While I don't understand why our parents and our school allowed McDonalds to be brought in as a school lunch (not to mention took us there when we were kids) The interview brings up some other things I can not fit my tiny brain around...
I was listening to another program a while back in which they were talking to child psychologists who work for advertising agencies. The psychologists proudly and excitedly explained how far they have come in specifically target children. Does anyone have any idea why someone would spend so many years studying child psychology if they don't care about kids? And if they do care about kids, how can they feel so proud about convincing them that they are worthless without a room full of crap, or tricking them into begging their parents for crap they don't need? I tend to believe that most people are good, and want to do the right thing, but this really makes my head hurt... I understand that some people care about money above all else, but if that is the case, why didn't they become investment bankers?
Anyway, the interview is infuriating. Just a few of the things she talks about
- How PBS and other "Wholesome halo institutions", which parents think they can trust are deeply involved with marketing to children. She even mentions that although child development specialists say that children under.
- Kraft, in the 80's was the first to realize that they could market their product to kids instead of the parent. (Kraft is owned by Philip morris, which pioneered marketing to kids)
- Creating constant dissatisfaction, always wanting something else, which is the goal of marketers (and their child psychologists) dramatically undermines well-being and leads to depression.
- Girls intelligence agency, a marketing group which, according to their website, "Helps companies increase sales and market share in the $75B female youth market", enlists girls to host slumber parties that are actually marketing opportunities.
- The well known buying of public school curriculum by corporations in exchange for valuable captive audience time.
To connect this with something more personal, I have been thinking recently about my own studies with "The Natural Step", which consults with companies on how to be more sustainable. While I agree with most everything they do say, there are some things that are being left out that I think really must be added. So far, they only talk about how a company like Ikea can produce more sustainable products... Yippeee! Weee! Great!... but Ikea's goal is still to sell sell sell to people who don't need it. I don't believe sustainability can happen if people are constantly manipulated into wanting and buying crap they don't need. Why doesn't Ikea stop their marketing blitz? Are there really that many people who don't have enough furniture?