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Friday, April 10, 2009

Marketing to Youth (Culture)

This article geared toward photographers (and somewhat toward advertisers) spells out the do's and don't's of marketing to youth. Thinking from the angle of a photographer, the photos used in ads would, alone, be beautiful portraits of unique people and relationships. (There are some gorgeous examples in this article.) But, when incorporated into ads with taglines and messages, photos become props to spark whatever feelings and connections marketers want us to buy their product.

Marketing to youth and about youth culture particularly irks me because advertisers are cashing in on a stage in people's lives where they figure out their identity--which means they try many things and are open to change and suggestion. Exploring yourself and the world around you sound like such a magical, great thing (and it can be!), but many teens and young adults feel immense pressure from an intangible source to be all at once sexy, perfect, smart, rich, and in command. These pressures are part of our larger culture and of course not created solely by marketing, but the wiley way marketing reflects and tweaks who we want to be seems to head many people down a bad road.

I'm posting this article because I think it's valuable to continually point out just how planned the images around us are. If we are aware of this manipulation, perhaps we can start appreciating ads for what they are, and peel them away from of our definitions of beauty, meaningfulness, and success.

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