Parents will be tempted to read Born to Buy
as a kind of contemporary horror story, with ever more sophisticated marketing wunderkinds as Dr. Frankensteins and their children as the relentless monsters they create. Indeed, it's difficult to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the avariciousness, omnipotence, and ingenuity of the advertising industry Juliet B. Schor portrays when it comes to transforming preschool kids into voracious, 'tude-infused consumers. Intermixing research data with anecdotal illustrations, Schor chronicles the rapid development of a once-shackled industry that now markets R-rated movies to 9-year-olds. The mind boggles at the notion that Seventeen
magazine's target readership is now pre-teens. While Schor unearths a surplus of information on the effectiveness of advertising, she's not nearly as adept at proposing effective responses. Reacting to the power and creativity of the consumer culture with politically unfeasible regulation and parental diligence is a little like attacking Frankenstein's creature with torches. Still, Born to Buy
is an eye-opening account of an industry that is commercializing childhood with remarkable effectiveness and insouciance. --Steven Stolder
From Publishers Weekly
According to consumerism and economics expert Schor (The Overspent American
), the average 10-year-old has memorized about 400 brands, the average kindergartner can identify some 300 logos and from as early as age two kids are "bonded to brands." Some may call it brainwashing, others say it's genius; regardless of how you see it, the approach is the same: target young kids directly and consistently, appeal to them and not the adults in their lives and get your product name in their heads from as early an age as possible. From TV shows and toys to video games, snacks and clothing, kids today, according to Schor, know too much yet understand too little, sopping up subliminal and not-so-subliminal messages of "buy, buy, buy." Drawing on a significant body of research, including interviews with everyone from advertising executives to the kids themselves, Schor exposes what she believes to be a huge cesspool of materialism, consumerism and commercialization that could be, and perhaps already is, leading to a generation of kids with no concept of what is important and truly necessary in life. By offering up her own ideas of what can be done by parents, educators, advertisers and others to lessen these problems, Schor goes beyond uncovering the problem and into the realm of concrete solutions.
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