Dr. Jennifer W. Shewmaker

Marketers-vs-Parents: There’s a Bullseye on Your Value System!

Shaping Youth » Vamp Tramp Toys: A Monster Problem.

In the article linked above by Amy Jussel on Shaping Youth, there are some very interesting insights. One of the most disturbing things that Amy shares is this tidbit on how marketers use parent outrage to attempt to sell more of these toys to kids. She says,
“Not going to give them (the company who produces Monster High dolls) the pleasure of naming names here to add to their search engine buzz, since  research has shown that one of mega-marketer’s favorite ploys is now baiting parents for “outrage”(yes, there are even strategic microsites like “your mom hates this” to serve as catnip for older kids, sigh, how cynical to use kids for fools fodder) .”

Okay, this make me really angry as a parent and a psychology professional who works with kids. Driving wedges between parents and children and encouraging children to do things just to annoy their parents is never a good thing. But what takes this beyond the pale to me is the specific targeting of children in order to encourage them to reject the values of their parents. In the film Consuming Kids, there is a scene where the head of a marketing company is being interviewed about using things like neuromarketing and the ethical considerations. This woman actually says something along the lines of, “Is it ethical..” then shrugs and laughs. What? If I said that about a practice in my profession, I would be in serious trouble. But for marketers it’s okay? Look, I don’t want to target a specific profession or demonize all marketers, but this is ridiculous. For those in the marketing and advertising professions who don’t agree with this type of behavior, it’s time to regulate yourself!

These practice are unethical and wrong. Large companies and marketers that practice this type of unethical practice need to be called to account. I say, let’s use our pocketbooks to make our point! I’d love to hear some specific ideas of things that you’ve done or can do to make a difference in this.

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2 comments on “Marketers-vs-Parents: There’s a Bullseye on Your Value System!

  1. janesmom
    March 25, 2011

    I’ve been thinking about this post for several days now, especially the idea of “not naming names.” In terms of my research this is a fascinating rhetorical move. We tend to think of silencing — the idea of not acknowledging someone as fully human — as a huge problem of oppression, and many times it is. But this is a great example of resistant silence/silencing. I refuse to speak your name because it gives you something you value. In a culture that Wendy Bishop has labeled as “fetishizing speaking out,” these silences can be really constructive.

    • Jennifer Shewmaker
      March 25, 2011

      I agree, Laura. I love Amy’s refusal to give extra attention to a company that’s using negativity. There’s a story that’s been getting a lot of press lately that I think is likely a hoax. I’ve been struggling about whether I should write about it or not, but there’s a part of me that feels that I shouldn’t respond in part to give it any extra attention. I think there is something to be considered about resistant silence. Hmm….

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This entry was posted on March 20, 2011 by in Uncategorized.
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