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Merchants of Cool - The Art of Teen Marketing

Merchants of Cool - The Art of Teen Marketing - Merchants...

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Merchants of Cool: The art of teen marketing Douglas Rushkoff interview by David Manning (March 2002) On the subway, a young woman was laughing loudly to herself. Even in a mind- your-own-business climate like New York, you see people doing this in public now and then. What was unusual this time was that she decided to engage anyone in earshot in conversation. She told how she was remembering a scene in the film The Royal Tannenbaums and asking if anyone else remembered it. A couple took her up on her charge and said that they liked it too. The woman went on to tell all of us what a wonderful film it was and that if we didn't know what she was talking about, we needed to see the film. Being a New Yorker, you're usually suspicious by nature of such good-natured qualities (how sad) but it was fairly evident after a while what was going on here. She was a buzz-marketer- someone who's paid to stir up interest in a movie or an artist or such. If you think I'm being a smug cynic (the film is a very good one but I knew that before I met her), I actually walked up to her to ask her if this is in fact what she was doing. Though she didn't answer me directly, she gave me a big grin and raised her eyebrows. Question answered. The idea of buzz marketing, street snitches (who will be in a roving group, loudly talk up a band or such in public just to still up interest) and going through teen's bedrooms and closets might have seemed like lowest ebb of commercial fetish a few years ago but it is a fact today and who knows where this will lead to or how much more invasive this will become?
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The PBS program Merchants of Cool studied this phenomenon, trying to understand who are the players behind this as well as looking at how they work and what effect this will have on popular culture. This proved to be a rather sobering expose of the world of commercial marketing to teens. One of the guiding lights of this project was writer Douglas Rushkoff who has taken a special interest in this subject in numerous articles and books. I spoke to him about what exactly is happening with teen advertising and why the stakes are so high not just for the companies and teens themselves but also for the rest of us. See the Merchants of Cool website at PBS and Douglas Rushkoff's home page Q: Merchants of Cool paints a bleak picture of television and its adverse effect on teens. In light of that, do you think there's some kind of need for regulation of the airwaves? Is that a real concern? I'm concerned with the creative output of artists being filtered and limited to this very narrow bandwidth of music and entertainment that feeds corporate culture. The problem with creating a government-run filter is that government-America and corporate-America are basically the same thing. What you end up with is the same sort of filter that WalMart uses or anyone else uses. The stuff that is going to be able to sell the highest volume is going to succeed. Meanwhile, the stuff
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Merchants of Cool - The Art of Teen Marketing - Merchants...

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