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Old 05-28-2005, 03:21 AM   #521 (permalink)
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product placement mind control

One of the ways in which we may honor those celebrities we worship is to fill our lives with the products they fill their pretend lives with. The more we know about the unreal world of our celebrity gods and goddesses, the more we are able to aspire to inhabit the media visionary heaven which opens up to us during the miraculous manifestations we are so privileged to receive as divine transmissions from the temples of our faith:

.......................................................
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-f...ck=1&cset=true

Probe of Stealth TV Ads Sought
An FCC official urges his agency to crack down on lax disclosure of fees for product placement.


May 26, 2005

Alarmed by "covert commercial pitches" sneaking into TV news and entertainment shows, Federal Communications Commission member Jonathan S. Adelstein on Wednesday called on the agency to investigate hidden advertising.

Although Adelstein took particular aim at on-air personalities who tout products without divulging that they are paid endorsers, he went an additional step by criticizing the lack of full disclosure in the pay-for-plugs proliferating in scripted and reality TV.

Adelstein lamented the practice, in which advertisers pay to get cars, cellphones, soft drinks and other products prominently featured or mentioned in shows.

"This is becoming so prevalent that people can't escape it by even taking a bathroom break," Adelstein said. "It's OK if the broadcasters do this, but they need to inform the public that it's being done."

Failing to disclose payments, he said, violates a 78-year-old FCC rule requiring broadcasters to clearly identify who provided "valuable consideration" to shows. Adelstein also took a swipe at his agency, which is charged with monitoring the public airwaves, for being lax in enforcing the regulations.

Adelstein's comments mark the strongest words yet from an FCC commissioner about the lack of disclosure in product placement. The Democrat's remarks came in a speech to the Media Institute in Washington and in a subsequent Times interview. Whether other commissioners would support his call for a crackdown was unclear. Network representatives declined to comment.

Advertisers increasingly count on integrating products into shows to reach viewers using digital video recorders, or DVRs, to skip past their traditional commercial spots. The product placement market is expected to swell to $4.2 billion this year, according to Connecticut-based consulting group PQ Media, up from nearly $3.5 billion last year.

Networks are practically hanging "for sale" signs on their most lucrative programs, so much so that the topic was a running theme last week in New York during the kickoff of the TV industry's annual sales drive.

Fox Sports announcer Joe Buck joked to advertisers that he would happily hawk their products during Fox baseball broadcasts, just as he did during the 2003 World Series. During Game 1, Buck chatted with Robin Williams, who was in the stadium watching the game. Viewers were informed the comedian was using a cellphone from Sprint, one of the telecast sponsors.

"Think it up," Buck told advertisers last week. "I'll try it. I have absolutely no pride."

At the presentation for the WB — owned by Time Warner Inc. and Tribune Co., owner of The Times — actress Amanda Bynes said the characters on her comedy "What I Like About You" were becoming increasingly familiar with real-world products.

"This season we found out, like, they eat Pringles and use Herbal Essence shampoo," Bynes quipped. "Next season, we hope to find out what cellphones they're using and what cars they drive."

But Adelstein bemoaned the practice as part of the "bottomless pit of commercialism in today's media." He said that when viewers were left uninformed it amounted to illegal payola.

"Everything from Coke to soap is subliminally hawked in TV programs," Adelstein said. "In today's media environment, product placement has moved beyond Coke tumblers prominently displayed at the judges' table of 'American Idol.' Now, products have even seeped into plot lines."

These days advertisers pay as much as $2 million an episode to get their products featured on NBC's "The Apprentice."

Adelstein said networks needed to go further than inserting a fleeting mention of a paid sponsorship in a show's closing credits, which is how the practice is often handled. On Fox's "American Idol," for example, the closing credits quickly note that Coca-Cola, Ford and Cingular Wireless are paid sponsors.

"A disclosure that appears on screen for a split second during the credits in small type that no one could possibly read without pausing their DVR — and pulling out a magnifying glass — could not possibly qualify," he said.

Gary Ruskin, executive director of the nonprofit Commercial Alert, applauded Adelstein's remarks. His group filed a complaint in 2003 about product placement that the FCC has yet to rule on. Commercial Alert asked that payment disclosures come at the beginning of a show and on screen when an embedded image appears.

"The whole television industry has moved to stealth advertising," Ruskin said. "It's dishonest advertising that sneaks by our critical faculties and plants messages in our brains when we are paying less attention."

*

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Featured goods

Here are some recent examples of brand-name products being integrated into television shows.

• Teams competing on NBC's "The Apprentice" were required to design a bottle and marketing campaign for Pepsi-Cola North America's new soft drink Pepsi Edge.

• On Fox's "The O.C.," a couple planning a vacation looked up their mileage on AmericanAirlines.com.

• One of the main characters on ABC's "Desperate Housewives" accepted a job at a mall as the spokesmodel for the Buick LaCrosse.

• An episode of the WB's "What I Like About You" revolved around two characters entering a contest to become the new Clairol Herbal Essences Girl.

• On CBS' "Survivor: Palau," tribes used Home Depot tools to construct bathrooms.

Sources: Times research, IAG Research
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Old 06-08-2005, 07:22 AM   #522 (permalink)
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more on that advertising creeping into shows via product placement...

Quote:
Story location: http://www.wired.com/news/digiwood/0,1412,67723,00.html

02:00 AM Jun. 03, 2005 PT

Tech product placement is going into overdrive, with several prime-time shows basing plot lines around hip gadgets and gizmos. And soon, thanks to interactive "object-tracking" technology, consumers may be able to buy featured products with a click of the remote.

As consumers turn away from traditional advertising, tech marketers are picking up the slack by weaving lots of gadgets into the fabric of TV shows and movies. The net, video games and ad-skipping DVRs are forcing marketers to focus more attention on "branded entertainment."

Movies like Sony Pictures' Hitch, starring Will Smith, gave prominent placement to several Sony products, as well as the popular BlackBerry e-mail device. The plots of high-energy shows like CBS' CSI franchise, and Fox's 24 and Alias, often hinge on technology. The first season of 24, in fact, made novel use of competing computer platforms to denote the goodies and the villains.

"Nobody watches traditional commercials anymore," said Richard Rizzuto, senior partner and CEO of New York City-based RPR Marketing Solutions."In five years, it's going to be 90 percent branded entertainment and 10 percent traditional advertising."

RSA Security has woven its SecurID security-authentication system into several movie and TV plots, starting with the 2001 Ryan Philippe film Antitrust.

Most recently, RSA worked with producers of the new film The Interpreter, starring Nicole Kidman, as well as the TV show Las Vegas.

"The trend in the last five years is to integrate brands in a more organic way," said Mark Owens, managing director of Ketchum Entertainment Marketing, a branch of the Ketchum PR agency specializing in branded entertainment. "It makes the story ring true."

Soon, product placement could merge with e-commerce itself. New object-tracking technology allows viewers to click an item in the shot of a TV show -- say, the cool cell phone at the lead character's ear -- and find more information about the product or even buy it with the remote control.

"The key is making it something the consumer really wants," said Scott Newnam, CEO of GoldPocket Interactive, which has been pitching its object-tracking technology to cable operators, who are keen to put their digital set-top boxes to interactive uses.

"It's about not making it intrusive," he said. "So far, the focus groups are terrific."

Newnam predicts that object tracking will be widely available to TV viewers by the end of 2006.

"All the technology is there," he said. "It just needs to be deployed."

The technology sector, whose products are often more difficult to explain in 30 seconds, may be especially suited to product placements that are integrated into story lines. After all, a lead character using a tech product can be an onscreen demo for an attentive audience.

"There's a big difference between having something on the table and having somebody talk about it in the scene," said Rizzuto. "You're almost getting an endorsement from that character."

Jeff Greenfield, executive vice president at 1st Approach, a Dover, New Hampshire-based marketing firm, has been shopping Black & Decker's new AutoTape product to TV writers. At the push of a button, the battery-driven AutoTape automatically extends and retracts a measuring tape.

"There's a comedy element to it," he said. "It could poke somebody. There could even be a sexual connotation. It's funny."

Greenfield noted that gadget makers are now sending piles of products to writers and producers to infiltrate their psyches during the all-important brainstorming sessions that determine plot lines for the new TV seasons.

Producers often work products into their stories without even asking for money or under barter arrangements. "Barter still rules the roost in Hollywood," said Ketchum's Owens.

For example, Cisco Systems, whose security-cum-video phones have appeared on 24, has provided networking technology to the show's production team for the past four years, according to Cisco. (The company would not discuss specifics of its product-placement deal.)

Marketers are also being careful not to go too far. "If it's not a true character in the story, people will see it for what it is," said Mark Hughes, CEO of Swarthmore, Pennsylvania-based Buzzmarketing.

Furthermore, "Hollywood is still very much a creative community," said Owens. "No actor or director is going to feel forced to put in a particular brand unless the dynamics of the business change considerably."

Of course, producers understand the game. And they are increasingly lining up sponsorships and product-placement deals before even approaching network honchos with new show ideas.

"That way, you're not trying to shove a show down their throats," said Greg Pate, executive producer at Dog Bite Productions. "You've already got sponsors."

In many cases, marketers can find themselves with the upper hand, especially when producers are trying to raise that last bit of money that could make the difference between the project being a go or not.

"They'll say, 'We're willing to do anything for that money,'" said Greenfield.

For example, a mobile-phone manufacturer might negotiate script changes to highlight its brand better.

"They might offer to work it into the script that (one of the characters) works at the cell-phone company," Greenfield said.
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Old 08-30-2005, 11:52 AM   #523 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ARTelevision
CSflim

Great question!

I try very hard to do that.
Do I succeed?
No, because it is not possible to think for oneself in the conventional sense.
I believe it's important not to be deluded.
With my conscious mind, I pose questions about thinking.
I use my thoughts against themselves because I do not trust them.

What I am able to do is to stop all thinking.
That's a hard-earned skill. I spent a lot of years working on it. When I am being myself I am not thinking thoughts.
When I am thinking, my thoughts are the type of thoughts that pose questions.
One of the most frequent questions I ask myself involves this topic.

How much of my thinking is controlled, influenced, manipulated by media?
My own personal answer is most, maybe ALL of it.
Ah, I disagree...

I think believe that you can think for yourself. And easily so. The basis behind which is to only accept input in two forms... educational and entertainment. Note that informational does not exist. In this sense, educational input is that which is a basis for further questioning. Any logistical thinker who believes they know an absoulte answer is not thinking logistically. All knowledge is only as valid as the supporting data. And supporting data changes, not only with the political winds, but also with new data. Therefore, what you know is only what you allow yourself to know... and even that should be taken with a grain of salt. If everything else is entertainment, and is not used in any way to shape or form your life, knowledge or opinions, then you do not leave a door for those who would to control your thoughts.

The most knowledgeable people are those who do not believe, but question. Philosophers make the greatest teachers. If you do not question what you are told as fact, then you are a sheep. If you believe nothing at all, you are nihilistic. If you question what you are told, and believe only what you are satisfied to beleive, you are enlightened. I choose the later!
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Old 08-31-2005, 11:13 PM   #524 (permalink)
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well I found an ad and immediately thought of this thread so I'll post it here...



I was shocked by this ad but I guess Diesel uses the sex thing a lot in their ads. It definitely catches your attention..
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Old 11-19-2005, 06:59 AM   #525 (permalink)
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I find it interesting that overseas there is a LOT more nudity in advertising and people thing nothing of it.
Here in the states we equate nudity with sex and equate sex with "WRONG" and "BAD FOR THE CHILDREN"

But a naked body over there is a beautiful piece of art... and naked body here is "POLLUTION FOR OUR CHILDREN'S MINDS"

and people who complain about these things also use children way too often as their arguement. What about the children, what about the children. well... what about them?

If we condition them to think that nudity=sex=bad THATS the way they are going to think.

If i child grew up with nuidty all around them, it wouldnt phase them at all.

You can walk down a street in austria or germany and see breasts 50 feet high and luminous on a sign.

Here.. people freak out if they have animated nudity on family guy.
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Old 03-31-2006, 07:08 AM   #526 (permalink)
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I have to remember that just the masses themselves can induce mind control. Groups of people have been influencing my thoughts these days more than normal.
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Old 03-31-2006, 07:34 AM   #527 (permalink)
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Yes - it takes most of a whole unique lifetime to make a dent in the unstoppable force called "peer pressure."

Then there's "social pressure."
I always find it amusing how self-described "rebels" think they avoid this one.

"Cultural pressure" is a nasty one too. Even worse is "subculture pressure."

*
Just a few examples of the many subtle commands we are very uncomfortable admitting we have succumbed to.
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Old 03-31-2006, 07:53 AM   #528 (permalink)
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Nonconformity is the most difficult kind of conforming to watch.

Cynthetiq - thanks for reviving a great thread. This one's always good to go back to.
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Old 03-31-2006, 08:05 AM   #529 (permalink)
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Do we succumb to cultural and societal pressures as the result of being brought up as 'good little obedient children', feelings of guilt if we rebel (might hurt someone's feelings, don'tcha know) or fear of being singled out?
I had a recent conversation with my mother about how, when she would go to my school conferences, she heard the same thing from first grade through seventh about me: "she's a very bright child, but very quietly, she does exactly what she wants, when she wants-she's rebellious in her own way and she doesn't apply herself to do as well as she could".
Obedience to peer pressure, cultural pressure could be measured in degrees. Of course, we don't walk the streets naked, but then there are those who think wearing a store's name across their chest is a status symbol. Do people drink Budweiser because they truly like it or feel the need to support their favorite driver or because their friends drink it?
For the past few years, red hair has been the color of choice. Growing up, it was just another reason to be singled out. Those of us with varying natural shades of red now look like nothing more than part of the mass fad and I know that I, myself, have to answer with a 'no, I DON'T color it' quite often and get the sometime urge to go pitch black or bright purple just to go against the grain a bit.
Ask someone why they chose what they did, and you get the 'because I liked it', but I don't feel that's the whole truth. It should be more of 'well, my friends have it, so, I liked what they did and I did it too". /me shudders
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Old 03-31-2006, 08:16 AM   #530 (permalink)
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My 9 year old son had me beaming with pride after this conversation:

[Logan watching TV] "Dad, why can they do that?"

[Me]"Do what, son?"

[Logan]"Make that commercial like that"

[Me] "I don't understand what you mean"

[Logan] "well, I have that toy that they were showing, and it doesn't do any of that stuff. It isn't even fun"

[Me] "You already know the answer. What did we say that TV commercials are?"

[Logan] "People trying to make you buy something that you really don't need"

[Me] "Does that mean they can tell lies?"

[Logan] "I guess they can, because that commercial was a big fat lie."

I have spent time with both of my kids trying to explain advertising to them and they now have a basic understanding that Media will stop at nothing to bring you over to their way of thinking. I know that lots of people still don't consider that 'mind control' but it sure fits all the definitions that I know.
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Old 03-31-2006, 10:05 AM   #531 (permalink)
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I don't quite get a lot of these arguments. I don't try to be a rebel or work consciously to be different. I'm also not a "product of my environment" so much. I grew up with not a lot of money in a single-parent home. My dad was an alcoholic with a drug problem. My mom was a smoker with a drinking problem. Both worked blue-collar jobs as best as they could get. Neither went to college.

I, however, excelled in school. I thought for myself. I don't smoke (well, my hookah and occasional cigar, but not addiction smoking) or do drugs or even drink more than a drink or two a week, and not even always that. I work in a white collar job making decent money and trying to keep my family in the best working order it can be in.

I'm more or less the utter opposite of my parents, and so far in my life I've gone a completely different route. I see commercials on TV. The only thing they provide is either a) entertainment for funny ones, or b) annoyance for stupid ones. I don't buy, even subliminally based on commercials. I don't go out of my way to avoid it, but it just doesn't happen. If I need a new watch, I go to the mall, check out some stores, look for a watch I like. I don't go to store 'x' and buy watch brand 'y' because it was on TV, or is popular, or costs a lot. I buy what I like to look at. If it costs $5 and is made of cheap plastic (none of them are, but..) then great. If it costs $500 and I can afford it and it's what I want, then great! If I get it at the jewelry store or Meijer or Walmart makes no difference to me.

People like to blame advertising for their "bad" decisions, to go to McDonald's or drink Coke or whatever. Why is that? Because Americans, IMHO, either can't think for themselves (what this thread seems to be about) or can't take responsibility for what they do (what I believe is more accurate). Suing McDonald's for making you fat? Are you kidding me? If a commercial makes you go buy a Big Mac mega sized with an extra side of chicken nuggets, and you get fat... that's because you're too stupid to take care of yourself, not because McDonald's advertising is that good. *boggle*

What about sex on TV? As was noted early on in this thread, in Europe there are shows and commercials with naked people. It's art, it's beauty, it's natural. They also have far less (statistically) sexual-related crimes for the most part, and far less taboos on natural phenomena such as sex and nudity. Crazy! You mean people are actually BORN naked? It's a sin I tell ya! *grumble* But this is how Americans feel (even the "liberals" often have this view). Sex sells? Are you serious? So some sexy hot blonde chick talking about her tampon is going to make Tampex the next Microsoft or ExxonMobile? Guys don't buy them... and not all girls have bi-tendencies. Sex is jsut the status quo for commercials these days. I doubt there's any real evidence that it sells much of anything. It probably started with a few companies pushing the envelope to be different... now everyone does it and it's lame, not appealing.

Do I think most Americans are sheep? Yeah, probably! We've learned to not take reponsibility for ourselves or our actions. We tend to blame the government for our misfortunes, big business for keeping us poor, and other countries for dragging us into conflicts. I don't think you can have "mind control" without a sound-working mind in the skull.
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Old 03-31-2006, 12:37 PM   #532 (permalink)
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Yes, we are sheep, at least those who don't make the conscious effort to not fall into traps.
We are a country totally pre-occupied with labelling. You're goth, you're yuppie, you're this or that. And commercialism preys on that. You're not hip if you're not wearing this or driving that. We have Jenny Craig, Curves, Bally Fitness, LA Fitness, Nutrisystems and carb fear, yet we're the fattest nation on earth. We have Aeropastale, Hollisters, Eddie Bauer, American Eagle and Abercrombie labels across our chests and over our ass cheeks, yet we bitch about money. Housing developments are nicknamed 'McMansions' and we go broke trying to buy a new beige house with the two-story foyer. There's only one thing these things have in common: a label that states 'status'.
Being someone who has all her life been called 'different' has its advantages-the main one being that my kids aren't falling into the trap of label-status. My daughter is just as rebellious against that as I am; other kids call her 'goth', but she's unique, definitely not the media-controlled version of it and gets mad over the labels.
I believe it was in this thread, I asked Artelevision why did he buy the truck he bought when there are cheaper ones: the simple reply: aesthetics. This should be our sole reason to purchase anything we need; its utilitarian and personally aesthetic reason. But sheep don't do that-they'd rather go into debt buying the BMW or fully loaded minivan, the beige-sided house and the latest style in sneakers and bitch about their money woes(there's a really good commercial about that, btw, just can't recall what it's for) than make the conscious decision to NOT follow the herd and be even more selfish by doing for themselves and their contentment while staying within their means.
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Old 03-31-2006, 12:47 PM   #533 (permalink)
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fuckin' sheeple........


i drive a piece of shit 87 4x4......it has like 5 different colours on it,full of rust and is ugly as hell.

you think i care?.............fuck no!!!

when i do need a new one......it'll be one that i utilize in what i do everyday,not cuz of some some commercial tryin to sell thier product.

don't even try that shit with me...........i don't even watch tv anymore cuz "wait there's more.......you can get a....."

.........fuck off.


if people wouldn't give a shit of what other people think of them...they won't buy into this materialistic fucked up world we live in.


i feel really sorry for the next generation and younger kids...the poor children are getting hit the hardest......vulnerable minds and.....these fuckers just keep stuffing it down thier throats.

my kids are allowed a minimal amout of tv time.....i want them to get the hell outside and expierience life first hand.

go do something,learn it on your own....no need to let someone tell you how "it" should be.


i'm done


"do your chores now kids"
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Old 06-01-2006, 11:36 AM   #534 (permalink)
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My fourteen year old daughter wrote this today as a school assignment. Yay, Catherine!


As a middle school student, I notice trends everyday of my life. Everyone looks like each other. Personally, I don’t get why anyone would want to follow trends, to be just like everyone else in school. School is drowning in sameness and the same thing over and over is boring. It’s like an ocean. How would you feel being surrounded by the same boring water for who-knows-how-long? That’s sameness. It’s a disease and apparently, it’s spreading quicker and quicker. I would rather be immune to it.
There’s so many ways to describe sameness; robots, dolls, etc. But one thing is for sure-I blame pop culture and Paris Hilton.
Everyday I walk through these halls. Every day, I see girls trying to be like the idols they see on TV or hear about online. They show off bodies that half the time should be kept to themselves. All the the time they should be kept to themselves, but don’t try to flaunt what you don’t have. Girls try to be just like Paris Hilton. They dumb themselves down, wear belly shirts, and skirts that would be better off as scarves of some sort. If I have to drown in a sea of sameness, couldn’t it at least be a more interesting sameness? I’d personally not like to enter school doors to an army of knock-off Paris Hiltons.
The guys in school are another story. Either they are all wearing giant shirt and baggy pants or polos.
A part of the Paris Hilton-pop culture trend is brand name-boys’ and girls’. Abercrombie, Hollister and American Eagle are brainwashing my peers, as well as all the other preppy mall stores or overly expensive companies. The way kids adore it is, actually, pretty depressing.
I’m sure they all have their reasons for following the trends. I only wish they were reasons worth hearing about. Apparently, if there was a war between originality and belonging, belonging would crush originality, judging by the majority of the kids.
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Old 06-02-2006, 05:12 AM   #535 (permalink)
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Thanks ng.

This is a wonderful piece.

I wonder how she came up with these ideas?

I'd like to believe many other kids are critically evaluating things.

*

(I must also imagine she still participates in her own versions of peer-pressured style and behavior. I've never met anyone who doesn't.)
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Old 06-02-2006, 06:06 AM   #536 (permalink)
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Many valid points have been raised here. Personally, I have not watched tv in 11 years, I listen to the radio only for storm warnings and ignore all sections of the paper with the exception of the funnies and the coupons my dear old mom saves for me. I have no need for senseless advertising nor do I desire to hear people crucifying someone for something they may or may not have done. Instead, I curl up with a nice book, do some crafts or continue to remodel my home.
I am one of those sick twisted individuals who can not wait for the world as we know it to go to *insert unpleasant place here* in a handbasket just to watch the masses and see what they do.
Just my 2 cents.
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Old 06-02-2006, 09:40 AM   #537 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ARTelevision
Thanks ng.

This is a wonderful piece.

I wonder how she came up with these ideas?

I'd like to believe many other kids are critically evaluating things.

*

(I must also imagine she still participates in her own versions of peer-pressured style and behavior. I've never met anyone who doesn't.)
Not to toot my own horn, but I think she came up with those ideas through my influence. I too was the unique one, not catering to any specific look or group. The only difference between me and her is I was ostracized and extremely shy. She is accepted and very outgoing.
It also helped that we were never in a position to say 'ok' just because she and her brother wanted something. Two years ago, she DID want the namebrands until the little light went on and she, through my explanation, realized that that $25 tank top with 'Aeropostale' across it is no better than the $5 one at Walmart-why would I shell out money so she could advertise that company? Yes, she agreed, I won't be a walking billboard.
Her style is quite unique compared to those she is friends with and her circle of friends is extremely diverse, from the 'tomboy' to the 'rich girls' and everything in between.
Catherine now abhors namebrands across her chest; she'll buy plain jeans on sale then do things to them at home, whether draw in marker on them or rip holes and prefers simple black shirts, maybe with small designs. I've heard her music, ranging from Billy Idol to Emo to rap. She'd rather read than watch tv;she devours books like cookies.
She gets called 'goth' at school which upsets her-she happens to be extremely fairskinned with almost black hair and prefers dark clothes, but labels make her angry and she's far from the 'goth' criteria.
It can't be easy for any 14 year-old now. Namebrands, celebrity idolization,
100 cable channels of commercials, the internet, all bombarding them with ideas of what they 'should' look like or 'should' act like. Thirty-plus years ago, no one wore a brand across a hoodie, now they expect you to pay dearly for it. We had magazines and movies. That was it.
I'm proud of Catherine's ability to withstand media pressure and do exactly what she feels is right for herself and I will continue to nourish that level of thought in her.
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Old 06-02-2006, 10:39 AM   #538 (permalink)
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I love this thread!

What does it imply...to be different?
What does it imply...to be the same?

Aren't prisons, office buildings, asylums, graveyards, factories, bars, restaurants, hotels, neighborhoods, hospitals, salons, brothels, studios, universities, movie houses, etc...filled with "strange", "different", "unique" individuals? What does this say to the various adjectives we assign people?

Is Rebellion inherently positive/negative?
Is Conformity inherently positive/negative?
Is Inspiration inherently positive/negative?
Is The Mundane inherently positive/negative?
Is Vanity inherently positive/negative?

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Old 06-02-2006, 11:11 AM   #539 (permalink)
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Good questions. Thanks powerclown.

I can't answer them.

For myself, I know the problem is that I can do nothing other than delude myself and participate in enough socio-cultural illusion and conformity to survive in this world. I suppose the issue has to do with the degree of self-critical awareness we can bring to bear on the subject at hand...

I do not see a way out of the situation though.
It seems to me the problem is with our brains and the way they work - or don't work. They are engines of self-delusion.
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Old 06-02-2006, 11:49 AM   #540 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by powerclown
I love this thread!

What does it imply...to be different?
What does it imply...to be the same?

Aren't prisons, office buildings, asylums, graveyards, factories, bars, restaurants, hotels, neighborhoods, hospitals, salons, brothels, studios, universities, movie houses, etc...filled with "strange", "different", "unique" individuals? What does this say to the various adjectives we assign people?

Is Rebellion inherently positive/negative?
Is Conformity inherently positive/negative?
Is Inspiration inherently positive/negative?
Is The Mundane inherently positive/negative?
Is Vanity inherently positive/negative?

I don't think any can be inherently or absolutely positive or negative. Rebellion to what degree, for example? Not wearing red on Valentine's Day (I always hated those types of things) or total rebellion against authority?
A degree of conformity is needed in the business world and academia; on the other hand, working in an office of grey-suited, metal rimmed eyeglass wearing people would probably cause some insanity to set in.

As someone who was always pointed out for being 'different', it's a mental tug of war in many ways of wanting to remain unique going against the desire to be as 'beautiful' or as 'talented' as those around me. And I find that when in one place too long, the 'uniqueness' begins to grate on some, when in the beginning, it was an attribute.
But who or what am I different from? Why are some people labelled 'weird'? And many times by those who could be considered equally 'weird' or different.
The struggle to find uniqueness from the masses is probably inherent to most of us. The problem lies in media telling us what's different, and us buying into that formula because we're only given so many choices to show our 'uniqueness'. I kind of like my daughter's take on it-buy the stuff that's there, take it home, and creatively destroy it to match our vision(I've done it with my car). From sneakers to jeans to tshirts to cars, taking what is offered and making it uniquely our own is a good way to start.
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Old 06-02-2006, 12:23 PM   #541 (permalink)
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I wrote out a longer, rambling paragraph, but I'll just post this for the sake of the spirit of this compelling thread. Suffice it to say that bringing people's "blind spots" to their attention usually elicits an uncomfortable emotional response.

One last question if you please: What about those in charge of Mass Media, those who "dream the dreams"? Are they exempt from this type of control, or no?

Thanks ART.
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Old 06-02-2006, 12:43 PM   #542 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ngdawg
I don't think any can be inherently or absolutely positive or negative. Rebellion to what degree, for example? Not wearing red on Valentine's Day (I always hated those types of things) or total rebellion against authority?
A degree of conformity is needed in the business world and academia; on the other hand, working in an office of grey-suited, metal rimmed eyeglass wearing people would probably cause some insanity to set in.

As someone who was always pointed out for being 'different', it's a mental tug of war in many ways of wanting to remain unique going against the desire to be as 'beautiful' or as 'talented' as those around me. And I find that when in one place too long, the 'uniqueness' begins to grate on some, when in the beginning, it was an attribute.
But who or what am I different from? Why are some people labelled 'weird'? And many times by those who could be considered equally 'weird' or different.
The struggle to find uniqueness from the masses is probably inherent to most of us. The problem lies in media telling us what's different, and us buying into that formula because we're only given so many choices to show our 'uniqueness'. I kind of like my daughter's take on it-buy the stuff that's there, take it home, and creatively destroy it to match our vision(I've done it with my car). From sneakers to jeans to tshirts to cars, taking what is offered and making it uniquely our own is a good way to start.
I think it's a matter of personal preference and taste...I've always enjoyed projecting the appearance of "conservative-ness". There is something intriguing to me about playing to the largest common denominator. When I see someone trying to be "different", my first thought is "This person is simply the same as the others in trying to appear different." For me, I get a thrill in discovering something cool and interesting behind the ordinary and mundane exterior. This goes for other things beside people. Ordinary looking restaurant serving great food, super-comfortable, unremarkable looking shoes, a simple, elegant photograph, a killer old fishing rod. Discovering the wolf in sheep's clothing, so to speak.
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Old 06-03-2006, 08:05 AM   #543 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by powerclown
I think it's a matter of personal preference and taste...I've always enjoyed projecting the appearance of "conservative-ness". There is something intriguing to me about playing to the largest common denominator. When I see someone trying to be "different", my first thought is "This person is simply the same as the others in trying to appear different." For me, I get a thrill in discovering something cool and interesting behind the ordinary and mundane exterior. This goes for other things beside people. Ordinary looking restaurant serving great food, super-comfortable, unremarkable looking shoes, a simple, elegant photograph, a killer old fishing rod. Discovering the wolf in sheep's clothing, so to speak.
I sort of do the same thing, but not consciously in order to 'project' and thereby influence a first impression. I do get many comments from friends, knowing my avocation and commenting that no one would ever guess what I do by just seeing me in public, but not because I play myself down-more that I play myself UP when engaging in it.
A good example of what we choose to project is what car we choose to drive.
I chose one not even available at dealerships at the time; it had to be ordered and waited on for months. The choice was a mix of pure aesthetics and cost. Only after receiving it did I find it to be totally fun and utilitarian as well. There was little if any advertising for it then. (I found it in an auto guide)
Belonging to a group made up of about 98% bikers has shown me a LOT about appearance vs ingrained, influenced perceptions and how erroneous those perceptions can become. Leather-vested, covered in MC patches, riding huge Harleys in groups of 50 or more gets most people thinking 'outlaw',
people to be 'feared'. Marlon Brando in "The Wild Ones", when asked, "what are you rebelling against?", replying, "What've ya got?" You don't think 'lawyers, accountants, IT guys, cops', but in reality, that's who they are.
I believe it's GMAC that runs print ads that show people in various walks of life dreaming of a car totally unlike their outward appearance; the 'biker dude' wants a minivan, the old lady wants a Corvette, etc.
I think the hardest part of dealing with perception is rejecting what has literally been beaten into our brains by media influence and 'they' continue to do it right down into the news. Would it be as newsworthy if some Godfearing middle Americans took to countering fanatical anti-military protestors or is it more newsworthy because the ones that are doing the countering are leatherclad gruff-looking bikers? Would Paris Hilton be on tv at all if she was a slightly overweight brunette with a Harvard degree?
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Old 07-17-2006, 06:24 AM   #544 (permalink)
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advertising on my eggs.... jeez.

Quote:
July 17, 2006
Advertising
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For CBS’s Fall Lineup, Check Inside Your Refrigerator
By DAVID S. JOACHIM
IN September, CBS plans to start using a new place to advertise its fall television lineup: your breakfast.

The network plans to announce today that it will place laser imprints of its trademark eye insignia, as well as logos for some of its shows, on eggs — 35 million of them in September and October. CBS’s copywriters are referring to the medium as “egg-vertising,” hinting at the wordplay they have in store. Some of their planned slogans: “CSI” (“Crack the Case on CBS”); “The Amazing Race” (“Scramble to Win on CBS”); and “Shark” (“Hard-Boiled Drama.”). Variations on the ad for its Monday night lineup of comedy shows include “Shelling Out Laughs,” “Funny Side Up” and “Leave the Yolks to Us.”

George Schweitzer, president of the CBS marketing group, said he was hoping to generate some laughter in American kitchens. “We’ve gone through every possible sad takeoff on shelling and scrambling and frying,” he said, adding, “It’s a great way to reach people in an unexpected form.”

Newspapers, magazines and Web sites are so crowded with ads for entertainment programming that CBS was ready to try something different, Mr. Schweitzer said. The best thing about the egg concept was its intrusiveness.

“You can’t avoid it,” he said. He liked the idea so much that he arranged for CBS to be the only advertiser this fall to use the new etching technology. •The CBS ads are the first to use imprinting technology developed by a company called EggFusion, based in Deerfield, Ill. Bradley Parker, who founded the company, wanted to reassure shoppers that egg producers were not placing old eggs in new cartons, so he developed a laser-etching technique to put the expiration date directly on an egg during the washing and grading process.

EggFusion, which was founded in 2001, started production last year with one egg company, Radlo Foods, which has since produced 30 million Born Free brand farm-raised eggs with etching. In May, EggFusion landed its first large grocery chain, A.& P., which will use the imprints on 400,000 America’s Choice conventional eggs sold each day in A.& P., Waldbaum’s, Food Emporium and Super Fresh stores from Connecticut to Maryland. Mr. Parker, whose family runs a chicken farm in North Carolina, knew that the way to get egg producers to cooperate was to make it worth their while. His answer was advertising on eggs.

“It’s unlike any other ad medium in the world, because you are looking at the medium while you are using it,” he says.

Egg producers, distributors and retailers all share in the ad revenue. EggFusion is selling the ads on its own, but plans to enlist the help of advertising agencies, company executives said.

As EggFusion sees it, consumers look at a single egg shells at least a few times: when they open a carton in the store to see if any eggs are cracked, if they transfer them from the carton to the refrigerator, and when they crack them open.

Mr. Parker said the destination of eggs was tracked so precisely that he envisioned being able to offer localized advertising, even aiming at specific ZIP codes, to promote events like local food festivals and concerts. He is setting aside a portion of the ads for charities, too, he said. The imprint is applied in the packaging plant, as the eggs are washed, graded and “candled,” or inspected for flaws, when the eggs are held by calipers and moved along a production line at 225 feet a minute. Right before an egg is packaged, laser light is applied to the shell, giving it the etching. Each imprint takes 34 milliseconds to 73 milliseconds, so the processing of eggs is not appreciably slowed down, Mr. Parker said.

The etching is ultrathin, to a depth of 50 to 90 micrometers, or 5 percent of the shell’s thickness. The imprint cannot be altered without breaking the shell, Mr. Parker said, in contrast to Europe, where ink is used to apply expiration dates on eggs.

“Ink is alcohol dye, so it can be wiped off. And ink splatters,” he said.

•A similar process to EggFusion’s has been used on a limited scale in the United States with fruits and vegetables, but mostly for replacing the price stickers used by grocers to track inventory and ring up an order.

It is not clear how commonly old eggs are placed in new cartons to appear fresher than they are. Repackaging is illegal, said Al Pope, president of the United Egg Producers industry group, and he says he believes it is rarely done. However, “If a consumer feels that having a date on the egg has some value, then it’s up to the consumer,” he said. “We believe in choices.”

Shaun M. Emerson, EggFusion’s chief executive, said: “I’m not sure you could ever know” how often repackaging old eggs occurs.

EggFusion has technicians assigned to each egg plant, and it owns the equipment and the freshness data, to ensure that no tampering occurs, the company’s executives said.

The eggs also carry a code that can be checked on a Web site, www.myfreshegg.com, to find out where the egg originated, the date it left the plant and the names of the distributor and retailer.

Both Radlo and A.& P. pay for the etchings — they will not say how much — but because A.& P.’s eggs will carry the CBS ads, it will also share in the ad revenue. But is egg-vertising an idea with staying power, or will the novelty expire after a few dozen bad puns?

“At this point it’s too early to tell,” Mr. Schweitzer of CBS acknowledges. “I think it’s like you know good ideas when you see them.”
the puns are just tiresome already...
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Old 07-17-2006, 07:18 AM   #545 (permalink)
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I think someone's got scrambled eggs for brains on that one....
The paranoid would just freak opening a carton of eggs to see a dozen eyes staring back at them (giggle).
I think they should do this instead: Implant a die with the CBS eye into their chickens' vaginas or whatever chickens have and as the eggs develop and pass through, they're stamped with the logo. Think of the time saving!!
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Old 07-17-2006, 08:27 AM   #546 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ngdawg
I think someone's got scrambled eggs for brains on that one....
The paranoid would just freak opening a carton of eggs to see a dozen eyes staring back at them (giggle).
I was thinking it'd be even better if the eyes glowed in the dark, but you won't likely see egss in the dark much. Still, pretty funny thing to envision...
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Old 11-15-2006, 09:27 PM   #547 (permalink)
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An entire US Election season passed and not a single new post here in MM/MC. How sad. Let's get back at it because there is truly no better example of Mind Control than the US Political Process!

Did anyone notice the upped ante on the Mud-slinging ads this year. This year, for the first time I can remember, I saw commericals that were 100% hack/slash with no positive affirmations whatsoever. I'm sure there have been a few before but I couldn't get over the fact that so many political commercials now don't even advertise their candidates - they just tell you what a slimeball/douchebag the other guy is and then let our wonderful bi-partisan system take control.

I really watch very little TV and take no printed news media but I still couldn't get away from it. Now that the internet has become a primary news outlet for many people, it is more difficult than ever to avoid getting 'paid for' notions of who should be elected and who should not. Having said that, here is my question:

How do you stay 'fair and impartial' and avoid being swayed by paid advertising? Is there such a thing as an 'unbiased' opinion in this day? Do you research your own candidates? Do you trust certain groups to feed candidates records to you? Do you vote for a candidate if you don't know the difference? Basically, I am interested in how you form your opinions on voting more than the actual politics.
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Old 11-28-2006, 06:42 PM   #548 (permalink)
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a blog I started reading had this and found this nytimes article because of it:

Quote:
According to new market research published in the New York Times, Americans are continually mentioning brands in everyday conversations.
A typical example cited in the story was a 29 year-old grad student who mentioned 17 brands in 21 conversations in the course of 1 day.

The article lists the average number of times consumers mention a specific brand in various categories each week. Media and entertainment (primarily movies and television) are mentioned 8.6 times per week, food and dining 7.5 times, travel services 6.6 times shopping and retail 6.5 and automotive brands are mentioned 5.6 times per week.

While you probably don’t have the time to keep track yourself, ask a family member or friend to keep track of their conversations for a few days it wouldn’t take long to confirm the results of the18,000 consumer diaries used for the study.

In the meantime, remember that every customer contact becomes fodder for the word-of-mouth gristmill. Make sure your employees understand this and keep it in mind every time a customer calls, writes or walks in the door. While you can’t control what someone says about your business, you have nearly total control of how you do business and treat your customers.
Quote:
November 24, 2006
Advertising
What We Talk About When We Talk About Brands
By LOUISE STORY
One day last June, a 29-year-old graduate student in South Dakota had more than 21 conversations as she scurried through her day. She discussed Donald Trump’s wealth with her boyfriend and suggested to her best friend that she should audition for “The Apprentice.” Old Navy clothes, she complained, were cut rather large. And during a phone conversation, she told her mother she would really like her to buy more Crystal Light rather than Coke. During the course of this daily chatter, the woman discussed 17 brands.

Consumer brand companies have long wished they could find a way to eavesdrop (legally) on customer conversations. Marketers can easily read Internet blogs, chat rooms and social networking sites, but what people say over coffee or across their cubicle remains largely unknown.

“The majority of word-of-mouth happens in areas devoid of microphones or cameras or any other means of actually tracking conversations,” said Jamie Tedford, senior vice president of media and marketing innovation for Arnold Worldwide, an advertising agency owned by Havas. “It’s the biggest challenge in the industry.”

A new word-of-mouth research firm, the Keller Fay Group, is attempting to demystify chatter in the offline world. Since April, the firm has interviewed 100 different people a day, including the South Dakota graduate student. In return, the participants receive points that can be redeemed at places like stores and restaurants.

Keller Fay asks people to keep a diary of conversations that mention products or brands and later asks them to recount details. Six months and more than 18,000 people later, Keller Fay is marketing its data to companies as a unique window into consumers’ heads.

“When you talk about engagement, as a lot of marketers are, people talking about your brand is the ultimate engagement,” said Ed Keller, the chief executive of Keller Fay and also president of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association.

Word-of-mouth marketing has grown in popularity in recent years. But most of it focuses on generating buzz among consumers — often by distributing free products. Keller Fay aims to understand what customers are saying on their own.

On average, Keller Fay finds that people discuss about a dozen brands each day. The most discussed brands are media and entertainment products like movies, TV shows and publications. But many people also discuss food products, travel brands and stores. Target, K-Mart, Sears, J. C. Penney, Gap, Victoria’s Secret and Wal-Mart rank among the retailers most frequently mentioned.

More often than not, people have positive things to say about products, usually after being asked for a recommendation, Mr. Keller said. People most often say positive things about personal care and household products. The most often criticized are financial services firms and telecommunications companies.

The diaries, while often brief, provide a glimpse of the world that might be useful to sociologists and future historians. Wal-Mart figures prominently.

A 44-year-old woman in Ohio said in her diary: “We refilled my prescription and then went shopping for a new grill at Wal-Mart.” A Michigan woman in her mid-60s said she chatted about Wal-Mart over lunch one day when her friend was “showing off her cheap purse.”

In upstate New York, a 21-year-old woman went shopping at Wal-Mart for “the new baby.” And, in April, a 41-year-old woman in North Carolina said, “let’s go to Wal-Mart to get your stuff for Iraq.”

While some people said they wished Wal-Mart would stop opening more stores, others defended the discount retailer. A 42-year old man from northern California said, “the anti-Wal-Mart people are missing the big picture.”

Those who listen in on conversations should be willing to tolerate criticism. Many companies avoid hearing what customers are saying because they do not want to hear complaints, said Todd Tweedy, chief executive of BoldMouth, a word-of-mouth marketing agency in Charlottesville, Va. “Some advertisers just aren’t ready to be more customer-facing,” Mr. Tweedy said.

BoldMouth has joined with a software company, BuzzLogic, to create a product available in January that will help companies monitor what people say about them on Internet sites. Tracking consumer chatter, though, does not always provide companies with solutions, said Heather Dougherty, senior retail analyst for Nielsen/NetRatings.

“Everyone knows that word of mouth is important, and it’s something that goes on all the time,” Ms. Dougherty said. “But being able to really harness it can be very difficult.”

Word-of-mouth research shows that ads do generate consumer attention. About half of the people who mention products also mention an ad, promotion or article they saw about that company. People say, though, that their conversations with their friends are more credible than advertisements.

Product mentions come up seamlessly in Keller Fay’s records. When people were not busy proclaiming, “I love my iPod,” they were often debating whether young people really need iPods. One 14-year-old boy noted that he wanted a green or silver iPod, but he had to have his name on the back, “just in case it gets stolen.”

The cost of a gallon of milk led a 41-year-old mother in Flint, Mich., to say that “the kids prefer Kraft cheese, particularly macaroni and cheese.” A 21-year-old woman in Pennsylvania talked about a Kraft online fitness and meal plan.

Many consumers keep it simple when discussing brands. In Michigan, an 18-year-old man said last spring: “Easy Mac is good and fast.” But sometimes larger and more complex issues come into play. In May, a 45-year-old woman in Pennsylvania started talking with a co-worker about Kraft and ended up discussing “the pros and cons of genetically modified foods and the lack of accountability of these companies to educate the consumers of our country.”

Mr. Keller said that companies could use word-of-mouth research to guide their advertising process. For example, he said, Keller Fay recently ran a search through a database of diary entries for a luxury goods company to see what consumers were saying about it. It turned out that people with high incomes were not talking about the brand, but people who made less money were talking about it a lot. The luxury goods company, which Mr. Keller would not identify, now plans to refocus its advertisements to reach wealthier customers.
Interesting I'll have to pay attention to how many "brands" I speak during the day. Being with a media company we talk brand all day long...
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Old 11-28-2006, 07:12 PM   #549 (permalink)
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Interesting. I never noticed if I do that or not. Then again, I work retail, so maybe I do there.
In one of my graphics classes, the teacher claimed we are hit with over 1,000 brand names/advertisements a day, from the coffee on your desk to a keychain. Sneakers, coffee cups, the local candy store, that little leather patch on your jeans....
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Old 12-04-2006, 12:00 PM   #550 (permalink)
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Quote:
December 04, 2006

Kids see too many anti-impotence ads: doctors



By Andrew Stern
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CHICAGO (Reuters) - Children should be exposed to fewer television ads for anti-impotence drugs and more for birth control, and need to be shielded from an advertising onslaught in general, the leading U.S. pediatricians' group said on Monday.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, in a new policy statement, urged doctors, parents, legislators and regulators to limit children's viewing of television and access to the Internet, move some TV ads to later hours after bedtime, and restrict how alcoholic beverage makers promote their products.

"If we taught kids media literacy, you can essentially immunize kids against advertising," said statement author Dr. Victor Strasburger, a pediatrician at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

The average American child is bombarded by 40,000 product advertisements a year in all media ranging from television to billboards created by the $250 billion U.S. advertising industry, said Strasburger, adding that children younger than 8 years are especially gullible.

He said advertisers and broadcasters bear a responsibility to teach and not just exploit child consumers.

"We'd like to see more birth control ads," Strasburger said, "and less ads for erectile dysfunction drugs because it makes sex seem like a recreational activity."

He said there was no evidence that advertising birth control products would increase promiscuity.

The pediatricians group urged the U.S. Congress or government regulators to restrict the airing of erectile dysfunction drug ads until after 10 p.m. when fewer children are watching television.

"I would like to see parents energized and more sensitive to the impact of media on kids," Strasburger said. "If they observed (American Academy of Pediatrics) guidelines to allow children no more than two hours of entertainment media a day, that alone would limit exposure."

Studies have shown a direct relationship between advertising exposure and youths who try smoking or drinking alcohol, he said.

Children who watch more television -- presumably exposing them to ads for fast food, snacks, soft drinks and candy -- are more likely to be obese, although no studies show a direct correlation between advertising and obesity, he said.

"If we can make the airwaves healthier, and make advertising healthier, then it makes more sense than putting 50 million children on a diet," Strasburger said.

An advertising-industry spokesman said food companies and advertisers already have responded to the obesity epidemic by promoting healthier products and by following recently revised guidelines for commercials directed at children.

"It's not like the industry is out there ignoring this," said Jim Davidson of the Advertising Coalition. "Everyone in the food industry knows we have a challenge in childhood obesity."

Tobacco and hard liquor have long been restricted from advertising on television and Davidson noted brewers have pledged not to advertise on TV programs where children make up more than half of viewers.

The statement, published in the academy's journal Pediatrics, also sought to limit televised ads for alcoholic beverages to show just the product and not bikini-clad women or cartoon characters, and to ban tobacco advertising of any kind.

Australia has banned all tobacco advertising, Strasburger said, and Sweden and Norway have barred TV ads directed at children aged 12 years or younger.
I didn't ever think about this... quite interesting insights.

hmmm interesting to see yet another article about kid fears...

Quote:
Study: Tobacco promotions in ads, films snare youth
By Reuters | December 4, 2006

Hundreds of thousands of youngsters under the age of 18 start using tobacco each year as a direct result of it being featured in films, videos, advertising and give-away samples, a report said Monday.

Such exposure more than doubles the odds that any given youth will become a tobacco user, said the report from the University of Massachusetts Medical School and Fitchburg State College in Massachusetts.

"A ban on all tobacco promotions is warranted to protect children," concluded the study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

It was based on an analysis of 51 studies conducted since 1981 covering 141,949 people. It examined exposure to tobacco advertising, promotions and cigarette samples, as well as pro-tobacco depictions in films, television and videos.

"Approximately 1.4 million children under age 18 in the U.S. begin smoking cigarettes each year, and half of these do so as a direct result of their exposure to tobacco advertising," said Dr. Robert Wellman, a co-author of the study.

Wellman said advertising today "fills the pages of magazines whose youth readership exceeds 20 percent, and tobacco use in movies is as pervasive as it was in the 1950s." REUTERS
bostonglobe.com
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Old 12-26-2006, 10:46 AM   #551 (permalink)
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Now this is a really interesting article from the NYTimes.com
Quote:
December 24, 2006
What’s Wrong With Cinderella?
By PEGGY ORENSTEIN
I finally came unhinged in the dentist’s office — one of those ritzy pediatric practices tricked out with comic books, DVDs and arcade games — where I’d taken my 3-year-old daughter for her first exam. Until then, I’d held my tongue. I’d smiled politely every time the supermarket-checkout clerk greeted her with “Hi, Princess”; ignored the waitress at our local breakfast joint who called the funny-face pancakes she ordered her “princess meal”; made no comment when the lady at Longs Drugs said, “I bet I know your favorite color” and handed her a pink balloon rather than letting her choose for herself. Maybe it was the dentist’s Betty Boop inflection that got to me, but when she pointed to the exam chair and said, “Would you like to sit in my special princess throne so I can sparkle your teeth?” I lost it.

“Oh, for God’s sake,” I snapped. “Do you have a princess drill, too?”

She stared at me as if I were an evil stepmother.

“Come on!” I continued, my voice rising. “It’s 2006, not 1950. This is Berkeley, Calif. Does every little girl really have to be a princess?”

My daughter, who was reaching for a Cinderella sticker, looked back and forth between us. “Why are you so mad, Mama?” she asked. “What’s wrong with princesses?”



Diana may be dead and Masako disgraced, but here in America, we are in the midst of a royal moment. To call princesses a “trend” among girls is like calling Harry Potter a book. Sales at Disney Consumer Products, which started the craze six years ago by packaging nine of its female characters under one royal rubric, have shot up to $3 billion, globally, this year, from $300 million in 2001. There are now more than 25,000 Disney Princess items. “Princess,” as some Disney execs call it, is not only the fastest-growing brand the company has ever created; they say it is on its way to becoming the largest girls’ franchise on the planet.

Meanwhile in 2001, Mattel brought out its own “world of girl” line of princess Barbie dolls, DVDs, toys, clothing, home décor and myriad other products. At a time when Barbie sales were declining domestically, they became instant best sellers. Shortly before that, Mary Drolet, a Chicago-area mother and former Claire’s and Montgomery Ward executive, opened Club Libby Lu, now a chain of mall stores based largely in the suburbs in which girls ages 4 to 12 can shop for “Princess Phones” covered in faux fur and attend “Princess-Makeover Birthday Parties.” Saks bought Club Libby Lu in 2003 for $12 million and has since expanded it to 87 outlets; by 2005, with only scant local advertising, revenues hovered around the $46 million mark, a 53 percent jump from the previous year. Pink, it seems, is the new gold.

Even Dora the Explorer, the intrepid, dirty-kneed adventurer, has ascended to the throne: in 2004, after a two-part episode in which she turns into a “true princess,” the Nickelodeon and Viacom consumer-products division released a satin-gowned “Magic Hair Fairytale Dora,” with hair that grows or shortens when her crown is touched. Among other phrases the bilingual doll utters: “Vámonos! Let’s go to fairy-tale land!” and “Will you brush my hair?”

As a feminist mother — not to mention a nostalgic product of the Grranimals era — I have been taken by surprise by the princess craze and the girlie-girl culture that has risen around it. What happened to William wanting a doll and not dressing your cat in an apron? Whither Marlo Thomas? I watch my fellow mothers, women who once swore they’d never be dependent on a man, smile indulgently at daughters who warble “So This Is Love” or insist on being called Snow White. I wonder if they’d concede so readily to sons who begged for combat fatigues and mock AK-47s.

More to the point, when my own girl makes her daily beeline for the dress-up corner of her preschool classroom — something I’m convinced she does largely to torture me — I worry about what playing Little Mermaid is teaching her. I’ve spent much of my career writing about experiences that undermine girls’ well-being, warning parents that a preoccupation with body and beauty (encouraged by films, TV, magazines and, yes, toys) is perilous to their daughters’ mental and physical health. Am I now supposed to shrug and forget all that? If trafficking in stereotypes doesn’t matter at 3, when does it matter? At 6? Eight? Thirteen?

On the other hand, maybe I’m still surfing a washed-out second wave of feminism in a third-wave world. Maybe princesses are in fact a sign of progress, an indication that girls can embrace their predilection for pink without compromising strength or ambition; that, at long last, they can “have it all.” Or maybe it is even less complex than that: to mangle Freud, maybe a princess is sometimes just a princess. And, as my daughter wants to know, what’s wrong with that?



The rise of the Disney princesses reads like a fairy tale itself, with Andy Mooney, a former Nike executive, playing the part of prince, riding into the company on a metaphoric white horse in January 2000 to save a consumer-products division whose sales were dropping by as much as 30 percent a year. Both overstretched and underfocused, the division had triggered price wars by granting multiple licenses for core products (say, Winnie-the-Pooh undies) while ignoring the potential of new media. What’s more, Disney films like “A Bug’s Life” in 1998 had yielded few merchandising opportunities — what child wants to snuggle up with an ant?

It was about a month after Mooney’s arrival that the magic struck. That’s when he flew to Phoenix to check out his first “Disney on Ice” show. “Standing in line in the arena, I was surrounded by little girls dressed head to toe as princesses,” he told me last summer in his palatial office, then located in Burbank, and speaking in a rolling Scottish burr. “They weren’t even Disney products. They were generic princess products they’d appended to a Halloween costume. And the light bulb went off. Clearly there was latent demand here. So the next morning I said to my team, ‘O.K., let’s establish standards and a color palette and talk to licensees and get as much product out there as we possibly can that allows these girls to do what they’re doing anyway: projecting themselves into the characters from the classic movies.’ ”

Mooney picked a mix of old and new heroines to wear the Pantone pink No. 241 corona: Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Mulan and Pocahontas. It was the first time Disney marketed characters separately from a film’s release, let alone lumped together those from different stories. To ensure the sanctity of what Mooney called their individual “mythologies,” the princesses never make eye contact when they’re grouped: each stares off in a slightly different direction as if unaware of the others’ presence.

It is also worth noting that not all of the ladies are of royal extraction. Part of the genius of “Princess” is that its meaning is so broadly constructed that it actually has no meaning. Even Tinker Bell was originally a Princess, though her reign didn’t last. “We’d always debate over whether she was really a part of the Princess mythology,” Mooney recalled. “She really wasn’t.” Likewise, Mulan and Pocahontas, arguably the most resourceful of the bunch, are rarely depicted on Princess merchandise, though for a different reason. Their rustic garb has less bling potential than that of old-school heroines like Sleeping Beauty. (When Mulan does appear, she is typically in the kimonolike hanfu, which makes her miserable in the movie, rather than her liberated warrior’s gear.)

The first Princess items, released with no marketing plan, no focus groups, no advertising, sold as if blessed by a fairy godmother. To this day, Disney conducts little market research on the Princess line, relying instead on the power of its legacy among mothers as well as the instant-read sales barometer of the theme parks and Disney Stores. “We simply gave girls what they wanted,” Mooney said of the line’s success, “although I don’t think any of us grasped how much they wanted this. I wish I could sit here and take credit for having some grand scheme to develop this, but all we did was envision a little girl’s room and think about how she could live out the princess fantasy. The counsel we gave to licensees was: What type of bedding would a princess want to sleep in? What kind of alarm clock would a princess want to wake up to? What type of television would a princess like to see? It’s a rare case where you find a girl who has every aspect of her room bedecked in Princess, but if she ends up with three or four of these items, well, then you have a very healthy business.”

Every reporter Mooney talks to asks some version of my next question: Aren’t the Princesses, who are interested only in clothes, jewelry and cadging the handsome prince, somewhat retrograde role models?

“Look,” he said, “I have friends whose son went through the Power Rangers phase who castigated themselves over what they must’ve done wrong. Then they talked to other parents whose kids had gone through it. The boy passes through. The girl passes through. I see girls expanding their imagination through visualizing themselves as princesses, and then they pass through that phase and end up becoming lawyers, doctors, mothers or princesses, whatever the case may be.”

Mooney has a point: There are no studies proving that playing princess directly damages girls’ self-esteem or dampens other aspirations. On the other hand, there is evidence that young women who hold the most conventionally feminine beliefs — who avoid conflict and think they should be perpetually nice and pretty — are more likely to be depressed than others and less likely to use contraception. What’s more, the 23 percent decline in girls’ participation in sports and other vigorous activity between middle and high school has been linked to their sense that athletics is unfeminine. And in a survey released last October by Girls Inc., school-age girls overwhelmingly reported a paralyzing pressure to be “perfect”: not only to get straight A’s and be the student-body president, editor of the newspaper and captain of the swim team but also to be “kind and caring,” “please everyone, be very thin and dress right.” Give those girls a pumpkin and a glass slipper and they’d be in business.



At the grocery store one day, my daughter noticed a little girl sporting a Cinderella backpack. “There’s that princess you don’t like, Mama!” she shouted.

“Um, yeah,” I said, trying not to meet the other mother’s hostile gaze.

“Don’t you like her blue dress, Mama?”

I had to admit, I did.

She thought about this. “Then don’t you like her face?”

“Her face is all right,” I said, noncommittally, though I’m not thrilled to have my Japanese-Jewish child in thrall to those Aryan features. (And what the heck are those blue things covering her ears?) “It’s just, honey, Cinderella doesn’t really do anything.”

Over the next 45 minutes, we ran through that conversation, verbatim, approximately 37 million times, as my daughter pointed out Disney Princess Band-Aids, Disney Princess paper cups, Disney Princess lip balm, Disney Princess pens, Disney Princess crayons and Disney Princess notebooks — all cleverly displayed at the eye level of a 3-year-old trapped in a shopping cart — as well as a bouquet of Disney Princess balloons bobbing over the checkout line. The repetition was excessive, even for a preschooler. What was it about my answers that confounded her? What if, instead of realizing: Aha! Cinderella is a symbol of the patriarchal oppression of all women, another example of corporate mind control and power-to-the-people! my 3-year-old was thinking, Mommy doesn’t want me to be a girl?

According to theories of gender constancy, until they’re about 6 or 7, children don’t realize that the sex they were born with is immutable. They believe that they have a choice: they can grow up to be either a mommy or a daddy. Some psychologists say that until permanency sets in kids embrace whatever stereotypes our culture presents, whether it’s piling on the most spangles or attacking one another with light sabers. What better way to assure that they’ll always remain themselves? If that’s the case, score one for Mooney. By not buying the Princess Pull-Ups, I may be inadvertently communicating that being female (to the extent that my daughter is able to understand it) is a bad thing.

Anyway, you have to give girls some credit. It’s true that, according to Mattel, one of the most popular games young girls play is “bride,” but Disney found that a groom or prince is incidental to that fantasy, a regrettable necessity at best. Although they keep him around for the climactic kiss, he is otherwise relegated to the bottom of the toy box, which is why you don’t see him prominently displayed in stores.

What’s more, just because they wear the tulle doesn’t mean they’ve drunk the Kool-Aid. Plenty of girls stray from the script, say, by playing basketball in their finery, or casting themselves as the powerful evil stepsister bossing around the sniveling Cinderella. I recall a headline-grabbing 2005 British study that revealed that girls enjoy torturing, decapitating and microwaving their Barbies nearly as much as they like to dress them up for dates. There is spice along with that sugar after all, though why this was news is beyond me: anyone who ever played with the doll knows there’s nothing more satisfying than hacking off all her hair and holding her underwater in the bathtub. Princesses can even be a boon to exasperated parents: in our house, for instance, royalty never whines and uses the potty every single time.

“Playing princess is not the issue,” argues Lyn Mikel Brown, an author, with Sharon Lamb, of “Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters From Marketers’ Schemes.” “The issue is 25,000 Princess products,” says Brown, a professor of education and human development at Colby College. “When one thing is so dominant, then it’s no longer a choice: it’s a mandate, cannibalizing all other forms of play. There’s the illusion of more choices out there for girls, but if you look around, you’ll see their choices are steadily narrowing.”

It’s hard to imagine that girls’ options could truly be shrinking when they dominate the honor roll and outnumber boys in college. Then again, have you taken a stroll through a children’s store lately? A year ago, when we shopped for “big girl” bedding at Pottery Barn Kids, we found the “girls” side awash in flowers, hearts and hula dancers; not a soccer player or sailboat in sight. Across the no-fly zone, the “boys” territory was all about sports, trains, planes and automobiles. Meanwhile, Baby GAP’s boys’ onesies were emblazoned with “Big Man on Campus” and the girls’ with “Social Butterfly”; guess whose matching shoes were decorated on the soles with hearts and whose sported a “No. 1” logo? And at Toys “R” Us, aisles of pink baby dolls, kitchens, shopping carts and princesses unfurl a safe distance from the “Star Wars” figures, GeoTrax and tool chests. The relentless resegregation of childhood appears to have sneaked up without any further discussion about sex roles, about what it now means to be a boy or to be a girl. Or maybe it has happened in lieu of such discussion because it’s easier this way.

Easier, that is, unless you want to buy your daughter something that isn’t pink. Girls’ obsession with that color may seem like something they’re born with, like the ability to breathe or talk on the phone for hours on end. But according to Jo Paoletti, an associate professor of American studies at the University of Maryland, it ain’t so. When colors were first introduced to the nursery in the early part of the 20th century, pink was considered the more masculine hue, a pastel version of red. Blue, with its intimations of the Virgin Mary, constancy and faithfulness, was thought to be dainty. Why or when that switched is not clear, but as late as the 1930s a significant percentage of adults in one national survey held to that split. Perhaps that’s why so many early Disney heroines — Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Wendy, Alice-in-Wonderland — are swathed in varying shades of azure. (Purple, incidentally, may be the next color to swap teams: once the realm of kings and N.F.L. players, it is fast becoming the bolder girl’s version of pink.)

It wasn’t until the mid-1980s, when amplifying age and sex differences became a key strategy of children’s marketing (recall the emergence of “ ’tween”), that pink became seemingly innate to girls, part of what defined them as female, at least for the first few years. That was also the time that the first of the generation raised during the unisex phase of feminism — ah, hither Marlo! — became parents. “The kids who grew up in the 1970s wanted sharp definitions for their own kids,” Paoletti told me. “I can understand that, because the unisex thing denied everything — you couldn’t be this, you couldn’t be that, you had to be a neutral nothing.”

The infatuation with the girlie girl certainly could, at least in part, be a reaction against the so-called second wave of the women’s movement of the 1960s and ’70s (the first wave was the fight for suffrage), which fought for reproductive rights and economic, social and legal equality. If nothing else, pink and Princess have resuscitated the fantasy of romance that that era of feminism threatened, the privileges that traditional femininity conferred on women despite its costs — doors magically opened, dinner checks picked up, Manolo Blahniks. Frippery. Fun. Why should we give up the perks of our sex until we’re sure of what we’ll get in exchange? Why should we give them up at all? Or maybe it’s deeper than that: the freedoms feminism bestowed came with an undercurrent of fear among women themselves — flowing through “Ally McBeal,” “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” “Sex and the City” — of losing male love, of never marrying, of not having children, of being deprived of something that felt essentially and exclusively female.

I mulled that over while flipping through “The Paper Bag Princess,” a 1980 picture book hailed as an antidote to Disney. The heroine outwits a dragon who has kidnapped her prince, but not before the beast’s fiery breath frizzles her hair and destroys her dress, forcing her to don a paper bag. The ungrateful prince rejects her, telling her to come back when she is “dressed like a real princess.” She dumps him and skips off into the sunset, happily ever after, alone.

There you have it, “Thelma and Louise” all over again. Step out of line, and you end up solo or, worse, sailing crazily over a cliff to your doom. Alternatives like those might send you skittering right back to the castle. And I get that: the fact is, though I want my daughter to do and be whatever she wants as an adult, I still hope she’ll find her Prince Charming and have babies, just as I have. I don’t want her to be a fish without a bicycle; I want her to be a fish with another fish. Preferably, one who loves and respects her and also does the dishes and half the child care.

There had to be a middle ground between compliant and defiant, between petticoats and paper bags. I remembered a video on YouTube, an ad for a Nintendo game called Super Princess Peach. It showed a pack of girls in tiaras, gowns and elbow-length white gloves sliding down a zip line on parasols, navigating an obstacle course of tires in their stilettos, slithering on their bellies under barbed wire, then using their telekinetic powers to make a climbing wall burst into flames. “If you can stand up to really mean people,” an announcer intoned, “maybe you have what it takes to be a princess.”

Now here were some girls who had grit as well as grace. I loved Princess Peach even as I recognized that there was no way she could run in those heels, that her peachiness did nothing to upset the apple cart of expectation: she may have been athletic, smart and strong, but she was also adorable. Maybe she’s what those once-unisex, postfeminist parents are shooting for: the melding of old and new standards. And perhaps that’s a good thing, the ideal solution. But what to make, then, of the young women in the Girls Inc. survey? It doesn’t seem to be “having it all” that’s getting to them; it’s the pressure to be it all. In telling our girls they can be anything, we have inadvertently demanded that they be everything. To everyone. All the time. No wonder the report was titled “The Supergirl Dilemma.”

The princess as superhero is not irrelevant. Some scholars I spoke with say that given its post-9/11 timing, princess mania is a response to a newly dangerous world. “Historically, princess worship has emerged during periods of uncertainty and profound social change,” observes Miriam Forman-Brunell, a historian at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Francis Hodgson Burnett’s original“Little Princess” was published at a time of rapid urbanization, immigration and poverty; Shirley Temple’s film version was a hit during the Great Depression. “The original folk tales themselves,” Forman-Brunell says, “spring from medieval and early modern European culture that faced all kinds of economic and demographic and social upheaval — famine, war, disease, terror of wolves. Girls play savior during times of economic crisis and instability.” That’s a heavy burden for little shoulders. Perhaps that’s why the magic wand has become an essential part of the princess get-up. In the original stories — even the Disney versions of them — it’s not the girl herself who’s magic; it’s the fairy godmother. Now if Forman-Brunell is right, we adults have become the cursed creatures whom girls have the thaumaturgic power to transform.



In the 1990s, third-wave feminists rebelled against their dour big sisters, “reclaiming” sexual objectification as a woman’s right — provided, of course, that it was on her own terms, that she was the one choosing to strip or wear a shirt that said “Porn Star” or make out with her best friend at a frat-house bash. They embraced words like “bitch” and “slut” as terms of affection and empowerment. That is, when used by the right people, with the right dash of playful irony. But how can you assure that? As Madonna gave way to Britney, whatever self-determination that message contained was watered down and commodified until all that was left was a gaggle of 6-year-old girls in belly-baring T-shirts (which I’m guessing they don’t wear as cultural critique). It is no wonder that parents, faced with thongs for 8-year-olds and Bratz dolls’ “passion for fashion,” fill their daughters’ closets with pink sateen; the innocence of Princess feels like a reprieve.

“But what does that mean?” asks Sharon Lamb, a psychology professor at Saint Michael’s College. “There are other ways to express ‘innocence’ — girls could play ladybug or caterpillar. What you’re really talking about is sexual purity. And there’s a trap at the end of that rainbow, because the natural progression from pale, innocent pink is not to other colors. It’s to hot, sexy pink — exactly the kind of sexualization parents are trying to avoid.”

Lamb suggested that to see for myself how “Someday My Prince Will Come” morphs into “Oops! I Did It Again,” I visit Club Libby Lu, the mall shop dedicated to the “Very Important Princess.”

Walking into one of the newest links in the store’s chain, in Natick, Mass., last summer, I had to tip my tiara to the founder, Mary Drolet: Libby Lu’s design was flawless. Unlike Disney, Drolet depended on focus groups to choose the logo (a crown-topped heart) and the colors (pink, pink, purple and more pink). The displays were scaled to the size of a 10-year-old, though most of the shoppers I saw were several years younger than that. The decals on the walls and dressing rooms — “I Love Your Hair,” “Hip Chick,” “Spoiled” — were written in “girlfriend language.” The young sales clerks at this “special secret club for superfabulous girls” are called “club counselors” and come off like your coolest baby sitter, the one who used to let you brush her hair. The malls themselves are chosen based on a company formula called the G.P.I., or “Girl Power Index,” which predicts potential sales revenues. Talk about newspeak: “Girl Power” has gone from a riot grrrrl anthem to “I Am Woman, Watch Me Shop.”

Inside, the store was divided into several glittery “shopping zones” called “experiences”: Libby’s Laboratory, now called Sparkle Spa, where girls concoct their own cosmetics and bath products; Libby’s Room; Ear Piercing; Pooch Parlor (where divas in training can pamper stuffed poodles, pugs and Chihuahuas); and the Style Studio, offering “Libby Du” makeover choices, including ’Tween Idol, Rock Star, Pop Star and, of course, Priceless Princess. Each look includes hairstyle, makeup, nail polish and sparkly tattoos.

As I browsed, I noticed a mother standing in the center of the store holding a price list for makeover birthday parties — $22.50 to $35 per child. Her name was Anne McAuliffe; her daughters — Stephanie, 4, and 7-year-old twins Rory and Sarah — were dashing giddily up and down the aisles.

“They’ve been begging to come to this store for three weeks,” McAuliffe said. “I’d never heard of it. So I said they could, but they’d have to spend their own money if they bought anything.” She looked around. “Some of this stuff is innocuous,” she observed, then leaned toward me, eyes wide and stage-whispered: “But ... a lot of it is horrible. It makes them look like little prostitutes. It’s crazy. They’re babies!”

As we debated the line between frivolous fun and JonBenét, McAuliffe’s daughter Rory came dashing up, pigtails haphazard, glasses askew. “They have the best pocketbooks here,” she said breathlessly, brandishing a clutch with the words “Girlie Girl” stamped on it. “Please, can I have one? It has sequins!”

“You see that?” McAuliffe asked, gesturing at the bag. “What am I supposed to say?”

On my way out of the mall, I popped into the “ ’tween” mecca Hot Topic, where a display of Tinker Bell items caught my eye. Tinker Bell, whose image racks up an annual $400 million in retail sales with no particular effort on Disney’s part, is poised to wreak vengeance on the Princess line that once expelled her. Last winter, the first chapter book designed to introduce girls to Tink and her Pixie Hollow pals spent 18 weeks on The New York Times children’s best-seller list. In a direct-to-DVD now under production, she will speak for the first time, voiced by the actress Brittany Murphy. Next year, Disney Fairies will be rolled out in earnest. Aimed at 6- to 9-year-old girls, the line will catch them just as they outgrow Princess. Their colors will be lavender, green, turquoise — anything but the Princess’s soon-to-be-babyish pink.

To appeal to that older child, Disney executives said, the Fairies will have more “attitude” and “sass” than the Princesses. What, I wondered, did that entail? I’d seen some of the Tinker Bell merchandise that Disney sells at its theme parks: T-shirts reading, “Spoiled to Perfection,” “Mood Subject to Change Without Notice” and “Tinker Bell: Prettier Than a Princess.” At Hot Topic, that edge was even sharper: magnets, clocks, light-switch plates and panties featured “Dark Tink,” described as “the bad girl side of Miss Bell that Walt never saw.”

Girl power, indeed.

A few days later, I picked my daughter up from preschool. She came tearing over in a full-skirted frock with a gold bodice, a beaded crown perched sideways on her head. “Look, Mommy, I’m Ariel!” she crowed. referring to Disney’s Little Mermaid. Then she stopped and furrowed her brow. “Mommy, do you like Ariel?”

I considered her for a moment. Maybe Princess is the first salvo in what will become a lifelong struggle over her body image, a Hundred Years’ War of dieting, plucking, painting and perpetual dissatisfaction with the results. Or maybe it isn’t. I’ll never really know. In the end, it’s not the Princesses that really bother me anyway. They’re just a trigger for the bigger question of how, over the years, I can help my daughter with the contradictions she will inevitably face as a girl, the dissonance that is as endemic as ever to growing up female. Maybe the best I can hope for is that her generation will get a little further with the solutions than we did.

For now, I kneeled down on the floor and gave my daughter a hug.

She smiled happily. “But, Mommy?” she added. “When I grow up, I’m still going to be a fireman.”

Peggy Orenstein is a contributing writer for the magazine. Her book “Waiting for Daisy: A Tale of Two Continents, Three Religions, Five Infertility Doctors, An Oscar, An Atomic Bomb, A Romantic Night and One Woman’s Quest to Become a Mother” will be published in February by Bloomsbury.

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Old 12-27-2006, 08:05 AM   #552 (permalink)
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Making defunct our humanity feels necessary if we are to survive our inequities. It feels like an assault vector against which the only defense is really transcending one's own dynamics, as though the soul is merely a collection of adaptive systems too well quantified for safety.
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Old 01-07-2007, 08:48 AM   #553 (permalink)
still, wondering.
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xell101
Making defunct our humanity feels necessary if we are to survive our inequities. It feels like an assault vector against which the only defense is really transcending one's own dynamics, as though the soul is merely a collection of adaptive systems too well quantified for safety.
This sounds curiously like doublespeak: Could it be zen?
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Old 01-07-2007, 09:20 AM   #554 (permalink)
Insane
 
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I hate it when advertising "works" on me. Usually food ads are the most effective for me. I see an ad for some new sandwich at a fast food place and just have to try it. Luckily the actual sandwich usually bears little resemblance to the one in the ad so it usually only works once. The best example was once I saw an ad on TV for Kit-Kat bars and I was actually walking out the door to go get one when I realized that I was totally responding to the ad, and I'm not all that crazy about Kit-Kats anyway, so I went back and sat down. Fast food ads or even the Food network are death on me when I'm hungry.
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Old 01-07-2007, 04:30 PM   #555 (permalink)
still, wondering.
 
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Hence their massive profits? But we can't outlaw making money until we come up with an alternative. Since you had the strength to go sit back down, I'm thinking there is hope!
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Old 01-19-2007, 04:38 PM   #556 (permalink)
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i really need to get a life

Last edited by Hanxter; 01-20-2007 at 05:24 AM..
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Old 01-22-2007, 08:41 PM   #557 (permalink)
still, wondering.
 
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You explore instead.
The realm expands and flows.
get a copyright.

Heh...
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Old 01-24-2007, 07:47 AM   #558 (permalink)
I change
 
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I thought I'd repeat my position on the basic questions above.

Because the collective power over decades of scientifically sophisticated research and billions of dollars of privately-funded consumer-behavior-motivation studies are overwhelmingly more powerful than any single human individual's ability to defend him/herself against the onslaught, we are in no way able to make decisions for ourselves in any sensible way. This is because our self images, behaviors, and relationships are wholly molded by these gargantuan powers of manipulation.

To disagree and claim some ability to resist or detach oneself from the influence of external decisionmaking is to appear simply naive and dangerously uninformed.
As for free-will - it is something with which we flatter ourselves and wish very dearly that it might exist.
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Old 01-25-2007, 07:42 PM   #559 (permalink)
still, wondering.
 
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...our self-images, behaviors, and relationships are wholy molded by ourselves under the influence of the outside. Think individual packaging, sir! Manipulation rarely works unless you let it!
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Old 01-28-2007, 10:18 AM   #560 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ourcrazymodern?
...our self-images, behaviors, and relationships are wholy molded by ourselves under the influence of the outside. Think individual packaging, sir! Manipulation rarely works unless you let it!
Cloacas.
yes, but more often than not, you don't realize you are being manipulated.... that's the point of this thread. If you think you aren't susceptible to being manipulated, you're fooling yourself.

Quote:
January 28, 2007
Spending
24 Rolls of Toilet Paper, a Tub of Salsa and a Plasma TV
By JULIE BICK
SHOPPING at Costco often goes something like this: Customer comes to buy bulk necessities like toilet paper and dish detergent. Customer buys those items, as well as a pack of giant muffins, three cashmere sweaters and a power tool.

It’s more than impulse buying. It is a calculated part of the company’s business plan. Call it the Costco effect.

“We always come out with too much,” said Linda Curtis Schneider, who lives in Nashville. “It’s hard to get out of there for under $200.”

Even when they are on vacation, the Schneider family seeks out the nearest Costco to gas up their rental car, grab a familiar lunch and browse for local specialties to bring back home. They have bought cases of chocolate-covered macadamia nuts from a Costco in Hawaii, gallon-sized salsa in Tucson, Ariz., and a crate of ruby red grapefruits in Marina del Rey, Calif.

The Costco Wholesale Corporation, based in Issaquah, Wash., aims to offer an inviting mix of necessities and indulgences — bulk detergent and megapacks of yogurts, stocked along with giant plasma TVs and crystal stemware.

From its first Seattle warehouse in 1983, Costco has grown to more than 500 warehouse stores worldwide and finished the 2006 fiscal year with its highest-ever sales, $58.96 billion. Costco is the largest player in the warehouse market. The rival Sam’s Club, a division of Wal-Mart Stores, operates more than 670 warehouse clubs worldwide, with a sales volume of approximately $40 billion.

Richard A. Galanti, Costco’s chief financial officer, said that while a grocery store might stock 40,000 separate types of items, and a Wal-Mart might stock 100,000, Costco will stock only the 4,000 most popular items it can find. “We try to figure out what people really want,” he said.

So, along with purchases of jumbo packs of paper towels and other supplies, impulse buying can be a big part of the Costco experience, because only the most well-liked, trendy, and fast-moving items are stocked.

Those items include iPods, individually wrapped cheese sticks to put in a child’s lunch box, as well as a few of the latest fashions.

Recently, Ms. Schneider and her college-age daughter were excited to find Ugg boots, Smashbox makeup in leather cases and Seven jeans at their Costco in Nashville. “Costco seems to go for the upper crust in taste,” she said.

Some offerings rotate in and out of the warehouse based on the season, sales volume and other factors. As a result, people may go to Costco more often than necessary to see what is new, said Steve Hoch, a retail professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. “When they see something they want,” he added, “they’ll be likely to go ahead and buy it, because next time they return, the item may be gone.”

While most consumers become annoyed when something they expect to find at a store is out of stock, a Costco shopper is likely to think, “I should have gotten it last time,” Professor Hoch said.

Other retailers may also seek to entice shoppers by setting limits and creating scarcity. For example, Target offers limited-edition designer clothing and home furnishings that are unique to its stores, and that are often stocked for a period of only 60 to 90 days.

And at BJ’s Wholesale Club, customers may come for their everyday grocery items, “but if they spot some jewelry or the new capri pants at a great price they will be happier,” said Teleia Farrell, a company spokeswoman. BJ’s uses items like 42-inch televisions and topaz rings to turn “ho-hum shopping into an exciting environment,” she said.

It is the same at Sam’s Club, where “members enjoy looking throughout the club for unexpected deals,” said Susan Koehler, a spokeswoman for the company.

Temporarily stocked surprises are also a calculated part of the Costco shopping experience. “We try to have hundreds of items that are different each time a customer comes to the warehouse, to create a treasure-hunt atmosphere,” said Joel Benoliel, a senior vice president. “We’ll always have the same staples — the cereal, the detergent — and then we add in the ‘wow’ items.” But at the same time, there can be a comforting sameness to each cavernous location.

Psychological factors can strongly influence buying behavior, according to Pamela N. Danziger, author of “Shopping: Why We Love It and How Retailers Can Create the Ultimate Customer Experience” (2006). Shoppers can experience an emotional thrill when they spot a deep discount, or find a particular item before it disappears from the shelves, she said, and creating those kinds of feelings has helped Costco. “Shopping is recreational there,” she said. “People seek out this psychological reward.”

Ted Reisdorf, 43, chief executive of Paragon Custom Homes of Scottsdale, Ariz., goes to Costco once every month or two and stocks up on household supplies, to save him more frequent trips to the grocery store. Once he is there, however, he walks up and down every aisle to see “what jumps out” at him. Mr. Reisdorf usually adds some books, DVDs or baked goods to his cart. “I always buy stuff I don’t exactly need,” he said.

Everyone seems to have an opinion about the Costco shopping experience. Some say they avoid going there because they always spend too much money. Others say they do not mind overspending at Costco because the company treats its workers well. A typical full-time cashier will earn $40,000 a year plus benefits after four years with the company.

Others, however, decry the essence of Costco. Teri Franklin, a mother of two in Seattle, said that Costco fed American consumerism and waste. “Instead of a single board game, you’re offered seven shrink-wrapped together,” she said. “You’ll probably end up playing with a couple and the rest will sit in the closet. But you really only wanted one.” She said she was not tempted to buy anything beyond bottled water and diapers at Costco. “How many things do you need 42 of, really?” she asked.

FOR those who want to minimize impulse buying, consumer experts say, it is helpful to shop as infrequently as possible, to arrive at the store with a list and a budget, and to walk down only the aisles that contain an item on the list. Conventional wisdom would also say that it is a good idea not to shop when hungry.

But those are not the types of shoppers who have made Costco successful. Professor Hoch said that increasing impulse buying or the number of items bought per visit was crucial to the company’s success.

Costco makes the bulk of its profit by charging an annual membership fee for access to its stores, he noted. A larger membership allows the company to buy items in bigger quantities and to pass along savings to customers. Customers who buy more items may feel that the membership fee is worth paying, because the cost is spread over all the products they buy.

Current annual membership rates are $50 for an individual, couple or business, and $100 for an Executive Membership, entitling the customer to other services.

“People laughed at the idea of charging someone to shop at your warehouse, but our membership fees are north of $1 billion a year,” Mr. Benoliel of Costco said. The company has more than 24 million member households in the United States and Canada.

Crucial to the company’s continued growth will be people like the Schneiders, who find shopping at Costco both utilitarian and serendipitous. “I might be going in for lettuce,” said Ms. Schneider, who on the spur of the moment once bought a $2,000 baby grand electronic piano at Costco, “but if I come out with other things, I don’t mind.”
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