The ‘marketer within’

“If a person is surrounded by marketing messages early enough, does she internalize them without realizing she has done so? John Seabrook, author of Nobrow: The Culture of Marketing, the Marketing of Culture, described his take on this phenomenon in an interview for a documentary on PBS’s Frontline:

‘The ‘marketer within’ [is] a core concept [in understanding youth culture]. You have a group of people who grew up mainly through television, absorbing a marketing voice, absorbing that pitchman’s voice almost before they knew language. Studies have shown that two-year-olds can recognize the difference in volume and tone of the commercial voice on television and know it intimately in a way that they don’t respond to the editorial voice. And you internalize that voice, so that marketing no longer seems like an alien external manipulative force; rather, it’s just part of your world. It’s part of something that goes on inside you and outside you.’

Seabrook describes a phenomenon that began in Generation X’s childhood: the feeling of being soothed, of having one’s anxieties assuaged by the comforting ‘voice’ of marketing. It is another bit of 101-ism that if Generation X suffers from obsessive, albeit unconscious, pangs of fear, abandonment, and insecurity, then their reflexive attempt to relieve such neuroses is through buying stuff – especially stuff for the home or children.” (222)

“Marketing culture has even farther-reaching, deeper consequences. For one, it doesn’t encourage critical thinking. The marketing industry’s goals are to mirror back to people not who they actually are but who they would like to be, to confirm that their ideas are the right ideas, and to instill a sense that every problem has a simple solution. As American culture has become increasingly dominated by marketing, its Gen-X citizens have also become the least informed in history.” (222-223)

“In his 2004 book, Tuned Out: Why Americans Under 40 Don’t Follow the News, David T. Z. Mindich, a former CNN assignment editor turned journalism professor, writes that less than 20 percent of Americans under the age of forty read a newspaper every day, compared with more than 70 percent of older Americans. The upshot, Mindich writes, is that ‘America is facing the greatest exodus of informed citizenship in its history.’

I believe that this trend is related to Generation X’s general sensibility, carried over from a chaotic childhood in the 1980s: the world is scary; TV shows are safe. The shows Generation X grew up with, PLCs, are marketing messages, and having internalized them so early on, Generation X naturally gravitates to them, whether they realize it or not.” (223)

Ref: Susan Gregory Thomas (2007) Buy, Buy Baby: How Big Business Captures the Ultimate Consumer – your baby or toddler. HarperCollinsPublishers: London.

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About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
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