Thursday, October 18, 2007

They're Infiltrating Our Babies'Minds

They’re Infiltrating Our Babies' Mind

“Today, the most intensely targeted demographic is the baby—the future consumer. Before an average American child is twenty months old, he can recognize the McDonald’s logo and many other branded icons. Nearly everything a toddler encounters—from Band-Aids to underpants—features the trademarked characters of Disney or other marketing empires. Although this target market may not be in a position to exercise its preferences for many years, it pays for marketers to imprint their brands early. General Motors bought a two-page ad in Sports Illustrated for Kids for its Chevy Venture minivan. Their brand manager rationalized that the eight-to-fourteen-year-old demographic consists of “back-seat consumers.”3
The real intention of target marketing to children and babies, however, goes deeper. The fresh neurons of young brains are valuable mental real estate to admen. By seeding their products and images early, the marketers can do more than just develop brand recognition; they can literally cultivate a demographic’s sensibilities as they are formed. A nine-year-old child who can recognize the Budweiser frogs and recite their slogan (Bud-weis-er) is more likely to start drinking beer than one who can remember only Tony the Tiger yelling, “They’re great!” (Currently, more children recognize the frogs than Tony.) This indicates a long-term coercive strategy.
The abstraction of brand images from the products they represent, combined with an increasing assault on our demographically targeted psychological profiles, led to some justifiable consumer paranoia by the 1970s. Advertising was working on us in ways we couldn’t fully understand, and people began to look for an explanation.” Branding Products, Branding People http://www.rushkoff.com/branding.html

I often refer to the corporate media as the corporate mind control apparatus because it is designed to penetrate our psyches and manipulate us via the images, music and message of commercials, news and so called entertainment. The most insidious aspect of all this is the programmers and psychologists who design commercial know exactly what they are doing, they are conditioning us to acquiesce to their programing and their view of "reality". In his classic book Hidden Persuaders first published in 1957 author Vance Packard revealed just how nefarious the media is. He exposed the psychological techniques and hidden manipulation used by psychologists, advertisers and broadcasters to induce consumers to do what they wanted, buy their clients’ products and vote for their candidates. “The extent to which the merchandising approach had taken over at the Republican National Headquarters by 1956 was shown by a statement issued by Leonard Hall, national party chairman, explaining why the Republican Party was going to regain control of Congress. He said, among other things, that ‘it has a great product to sell. . . . You sell your candidates and your programs the way a business sells its products.’ The committee's ‘public-relations director, young crew-cut L. Richard Guylay, who had helped pioneer the merchandising approach to politics by handling the image building for a number of Senators, explained that the new scientific methods take the guesswork out of politics and save a lot of wasted time and effort. . . . Len Hall is a great supporter of modern techniques.’
In the White House itself the Republicans had a persuader of proven talents in Governor Howard Pyle, deputy assistant to the President just under Sherman Adams. A former ad man from Phoenix, Arizona, he explained that the Republican Party would put its trust, in 1956 as in 1952, in the big New York ad agency, Batten, Barton, Durstine and Osborn. He explained in late 1955: ‘The Republican Party has long been identified with B.B.D.&O. They represent us at campaign time and all the time in between on a retainer. We're a regular account, and when you get to kicking around the appropriations, it's a valuable account. We have underlying obligations to B.B.D.&O.’ Mr. Pyle in one of his rare public appearances made a foot-in-mouth statement in unemployment-plagued Detroit that "the right to suffer is one of the joys of a free economy.") The B.B.D.&O. executive who is in charge of the GOP ‘account,’ Carroll Newton, proclaims that he is an advertising man, not a politician. Another big account he has supervised is U.S. Steel. He reportedly had forty people on his GOP account. ” From Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard.
Media psychological manipulation has grown by leaps and bounds since Hidden Persuaders was published in 1957. In fact the hydra of psychological manipulation now permeates all levels of society but their prime target is our children. Our children are in their cross hairs, the younger the better, simply because their developing minds are defenseless against the cunning subliminal messages the media pumps at them on a daily basis. “To effectively market to children, advertisers need to know what makes kids tick. With the help of well-paid researchers and psychologists, advertisers now have access to in-depth knowledge about children's developmental, emotional and social needs at different ages. Using research that analyzes children's behavior, fantasy lives, art work, even their dreams, companies are able to craft sophisticated marketing strategies to reach young people. The issue of using child psychologists to help marketers target kids gained widespread public attention in 1999, when a group of U.S. mental health professionals issued a public letter to the American Psychological Association (APA) urging them to declare the practice unethical. The APA is currently studying the issue.” How Marketers Target Kids www.reseau-medias.ca/english/parents/marketing/marketers_target_kids.cfm
The really pernicious part is the advertisers and programmers have no scruples, their goal is to capture our children’s minds for the long haul and they are willing to spare no effort or expense doing it. “Marketers plant the seeds of brand recognition in very young children, in the hopes that the seeds will grow into lifetime relationships. According to the Center for a New American Dream, babies as young as six months of age can form mental images of corporate logos and mascots. Brand loyalties can be established as early as age two, and by the time children head off to school most can recognize hundreds of brand logos. While fast food, toy and clothing companies have been cultivating brand recognition in children for years, adult-oriented businesses such as banks and automakers are now getting in on the act. Magazines such as Time, Sports Illustrated and People have all launched kid and teen editions—which boast ads for adult related products such as minivans, hotels and airlines.” ibid
The really alarming fact is young children toddlers cannot distinguish between programming content and commercials. All they know is there are interesting and often life like images on the TV screen, they hear sounds, the music and they conclude all this is real, all this is the same. “According to Consumer Reports magazine, ‘young children have difficulty distinguishing between advertising and reality in ads, and ads can distort their view of the world.’
Research has shown that children between the ages of two and five cannot differentiate between regular TV programming and commercials. Young children are especially vulnerable to misleading advertising and don't begin to understand that advertisements are not always true until they're eight.” Special Issues for Young Children Developmental concerns http://www.reseau-medias.ca/english/parents/marketing/issues_kids_marketing.cfm .
Is there a solution? Can ordinary folks counter the proliferation of media, can we shield our children from the insidious invasion into their psyches? The answer is yes, but it will not be easy. You will have to monitor and screen all the media stimuli you allow into your home especially if you have young children. As your children grow and are exposed to more media stimulation, take the time to explain to them everything they see on television, in the video games and magazines is not true or real. Begin to share with them the need for media scrutiny, sit with them and help them decode the messages they are consuming. Empower them to be savvy media consumers. But to do this successfully, you must be extremely discerning and discriminating regarding the mass media and actively cultivate media savvy yourself.

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