Parents, more than ads, make kids consumers

We Make Money Not Art directs us to a Guardian article about the innumerable marketing messages kids (and everyone else) are exposed to every day.

Unfortunately, the article takes the low road, opting for sensationalism instead of realism. For example, "one study" (we have no idea the sampling size, randomness of sampling, population, etc. - which makes this study reference useless) claimed that more kids recognize McDonald's golden arches and Nike's swoosh before they recognize Jesus. (To be fair, McDonald's and Nike are real companies; Jesus is mythology.)

The article goes on to complain about kids who know brand names better than they know their own names. Not surprising, if you bother to look at the parents. When they are raised in a world where their parents place irrational values on brands, kids naturally immitate their parents' behavior (regardless of how rational that behavior is). Kids typically continue to do this at least until they reach their tween years, when the influences of peers begin to crowd out the influences of parents.

I think the article fails in that it doesn't hold parents accountable (or even acknowledge parents as key influencers), as if three- and four-year olds are somehow on their own in the world. When your parents proudly wear swoosh-laden clothing every day, or seem to be in a better mood when they can unload the dinner duties on a place that has golden arches at its entrance, what kind of conclusions do you make about the world? Whatever they are, your parents' behavior leads you to those conclusions - perhaps more than any other cultural influence.


Blue-Faced Cell-Out

CTA Tattler captures the disdain for a U.S. Cellular guerilla marketing campaign that's been annoying Chicagoans during their commutes this week. I personally encountered no less than five of these chumps while riding the Blue Line for a mere three stops the other day.

The first indication that this "stunt" was BS: there's no way any of them were getting a signal in the tunnel -- whatever conversations they were pretending to have were obviously fake. The CTA should know about this (I'd bet that U.S. Cellular didn't bother to get clearance first), so if you've encountered this shite, be sure to report it to CTA customer service.

This stunt seems to coincide with a promotion the carrier is running with WCKG radio (scroll down to "U.S. Cellular - win a free phone and service"). Go ahead and ask Pete McMurray if he's going to paint his face blue, too.

The Wall Street Journal reports that U.S. Cellular claims to be approaching teens with this "call me minutes" campaign -- so why are they irritating twenty- and thirty-somethings during the morning commute? You might also ask the conglomerate WPP Group (and subsidiary G Whiz), who (according to WSJ) helped U.S. Cellular come up with such a bad idea in the first place.

And to U.S. Cellular: if you're so keen on minding the blogosphere, be sure to check out that link to CTA Tattler. The people who blog about what you've done don't like you at all. They are talking about boycotting your services in your own home town. Joan Cusack was annoying enough; this blue-faced desperation is a total turn-off.


Buzz-words aside...

Are Current TV's "pods" and Squidoo's "lenses" basically the same thing? When you get through the fluffy language written around these entities, each is just a meme pool with somewhat proprietary nomenclature.

Are we really just seeing a revival of self-appointed experts... the kind that used innumerable day-time talk shows as their platforms in the 1980's? Maybe. One thing is certain: When everyone is an expert, being an expert becomes meaningless.


To Yahoo!, from the streets

Wooster Collective reports that Michael Oliver has created a cool hack combining Flickr (a Yahoo! property) and Google Maps to create a dynamic map of street art snapshots as uploaded by users. Of course, Oliver's hack isn't working right now... but there's a similar hack that does work - using geotagged Flickr images and Google Maps - here (though there isn't much that's been mapped yet).

Hey, Yahoo!, maybe it's time to get your map application in shape enough to compete with Google's? This "hack" creates a combination of tools that are not unique to street art afficionados; wait until the travel industry and its journalists pick up on this... if they haven't already.


Cruelty-free living isn't what they say

PETA, in its holier-than-thou crusade for the ethical treatment of animals, has overlooked the fact that man is an animal, too. The alleged proponent of "cruelty-free living" has taken to paying homeless people a meager sum (less than ten US Dollars) to invade KFC locations and scare customers away. Since when are homeless people are lower lifeforms than chickens? PETA is clearly more about sensationalizing marginal issues and pushing propaganda than it is about being an ethical citizen. I suppose when your primary audience is over-privileged, arrogant suburbanites it's easy to lose your grip on reality.

Before you PETA folks post any comments (as if), see if you can answer these simple questions: If animals are not ours to exploit, why do we all drive automobiles that run on fossil fuels (animal byproducts)? Is there a time limit on how long an animal must be dead before it's okay for us to exploit it? Why do PETA booths at festivals sell DVDs and stickers that are produced with plastics (petroleum byproducts)?