Youth Marketing Blogs Tangent #3

In my continuing saga to rid the world of the crass commercialization of youth and the marketing of homogeneity, I would like to bring your attention back to YPulse. As some of you remember from my other forays into this conversation, I’ve got beef with people who sell youth, sell to youth, and promote the manipulation of Youth Voice as a marketing tool. I stand against the commercialization of childhood and youth-dom, and YPulse, along with several other blogs, does this very thing with exacting science and precision analyses. Frankly, I am scared of the power of Anastasia Goodstein, its founder and operator.

Goodstein has shown deft skill at defining and driving youth consumption, particularly as it relates to popular culture and technology usage. She is joined by a small bevy of other bloggers* * * * who do this for a living, and honestly they all have their interesting moments. But Goodstein’s successful marketing of herself as the Carrie Bradshaw of teen marketing is what puts a briar in my britches. Profiteering off mass explotation bothers me – call me particular that way. Perhaps what bothers me most is that it appears that Goodstein got her start from a righteous place: she started her work at Teen Voices, a Boston nonprofit youth media organization. Bleh.

Oh, and let me be clear: this isn’t just about the blogs. Goodstein has a book, as well as several conferences every year. More than a half dozen other other youth marketing conferences* * * apparently want to grow up to be half as influential as Goodstein. Her website is up there, too, ranking 171,334 in total popularity across the Internet. That’s compared to the Best Buy Corporation’s @15 website, which competes with the nonprofit YouthNoise, and ranks in at just over 10,389,000 in popularity. These say nothing of the beer-promoting websites Goodstein also promotes on her youth marketing blog* *. Classy.

Admittedly, there is a lot to learn from what the Youth Voice marketers have done, as well as their analyses. DK, a thorough social marketing maestro from the UK who routinely brings his expertise stateside, is one of the people in this area I watch closest. I readily credit his Mediasnackers with teaching me a great deal about my own work, even if – or especially because – he is a marketing expert. The difference between his work and Goodstein’s, though, is that from DK I get the sense that there is a genuine commitment to actually bettering the lives of young people through better marketing. With Goodstein, not so much. I get that it is about bettering the lives of the marketers involved, rather than the people they’re targeting.

Let’s remember why Youth Voice matters – because it comes from young people and benefits all of us. In this same way I would challenge many youth marketers to remember why their work matters – because it benefits more than them individually. As Dr. King implored us, “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” Let’s keep that in mind no matter what our angle is.

4 comments

  1. Interesting views Adam, and I am sympathetic to some of what you are saying (particularly about the ‘commercialization of childhood’), but you really are regarding all youth marketers and marketing in a narrow and cliched way.

    Marketing is the selling of ideas. You have ideas yourself which you are selling through your blog. Are you evil? Would it be be evil if you marketed your views to youth?

    We are a UK youth marketing agency and our focus is exclusively on intelligent 16-24 year-olds.

    When we are marketing to recruit volunteers to raise funds for cancer research, or to protest against the use of excessive packaging by businesses, or to promote further education, or to raise awareness about online security (all recent campaigns) are we the “disgusting beast of an animal that sucks the souls of humans to feed the beast of greed” that you describe in a previous post?

    Youth marketing expertise is about understanding young people and how to communicate in a way that interests them. Your beef should not be with youth marketers, whose work and clients will be wide ranging and who make individual choices about who they work with on what projects. Your beef should be with the specific ideas that you don’t like being marketed, from specific companies or sectors.

    On a separate note, I have never met Anastasia Goodstein who you so target in your piece, but have you ever considered what it feels like to be so caustically attacked in public? You manage to put your point across in an eye-catching way, but is it necessary to hammer an individual like this? I read a lot of blogs, and when I see a blogger targeting an individual in this manner it alarms me.

    Luke
    http://www.reachstudents.co.uk

  2. I think you are wildly off the mark with this one.

    Firstly, your inherent dislike of marketing proves that you have a very limited understanding of how businesses operate. Marketing is not evil, it is an core fundamental of every single business operation in the world, you might as well dismiss money as ” a disgusting beast of an animal that sucks the souls of humans to feed the beast of greed”.

    Secondly, ALL youth marketeers work within sets of governmental and voluntary codes which have very strict rules about what they can and what they can’t say to kids. You will be probably surprised to hear that youth marketers actually quite like kids, it’s why they work in the industry they do and to infer that they are all evil geniuses on a mission to destroy young peoples lives is frankly a remedial point of view.

    Finally, I have no idea how you have come to your conclusions about Y-Pulse and Anastasia in particular. To be frank it is obvious that you have not consumed her site for any length of time and are certainly not aware of her views on marketing to young people. Which for the record actually mirror yours, but in a much more intelligent way.

    This blog entry is possibly on of the worst I have read in a very very long time, you should be ashamed.

  3. In a field that is apparently devoid of critical thinking, it comes as no surprise that some of the loudest voices would come to the defense of their colleague.

    To rightfully acknowledge an appropriate point that Luke made, I would say that I was a little harsh in my choice of words. However, this wasn’t vitriol as much as it was concern: as an ethical proponent of civic engagement, I must expose the fallacies of consumerism, which is inherently anti-democratic.

    My post was no lampoon, and the first response from Luke was respectable for its content. However, the second poster’s response comical. Let’s keep it real here folks, and remember that we’re battling for the hearts and souls of young people here. Come with more than insults and insinuation.

  4. Thank you for your kind words Adam – surprised and disagree with the associated moniker “marketing expert”, although appreciate the compliment.

    I would challenge you to approach the organisations /individuals you cite / link to in your post and ask for their responses direct (although I would fear you may have lost out on the opportunity) as most of them I have had direct contact with and I would say are bettering the lives of young people by working with marketeers…

    You obviously feel very differently and that’s cool – it’s just I would’ve love to have read / heard a collective discussion / podcast exploring the lines and parameters of the issues around the increasing commercialisation of childhood and youth rather than this approach.

    Just my take, for what it’s worth, given with respect, a smile and no expectations…

    Peace

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