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Branded: The Buying and Selling of Teenagers [Paperback]

Alissa Quart
2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

29 Jan 2004
Generation Y has grown up in an age of the brand, bombarded by name products. In Branded, Alissa Quart illuminates the unsettling new reality of marketing to teenagers, as well as the quieter but no less worrisome forms of teen branding: the teen consultants who work for corporations in exchange for product; the girls obsessed with cosmetic surgery who will do anything to look like women on TV; and those teens simply obsessed with admission into a name-brand college. We also meet the pockets of kids attempting to turn the tables on the cocksure corporations that so cynically strive to manipulate them. Chilling, thought-provoking, even darkly amusing, Branded brings one of the most disturbing and least talked about results of contemporary business and culture to the fore-and ensures that we will never look at today's youth the same way again.


Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Perseus Books; Reprint edition (29 Jan 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738208620
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738208626
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 13.3 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,205,902 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Alissa Quart's Branded highlights the corporate marketing strategies aimed at teenagers and pre-teen (tween) consumers. It's no surprise to hear that most teenagers have mobile phones and a voracious appetite for designer labels or that, in the US, corporations spend billions of dollars to woo them.

Indeed, US schools have long since been sponsored by corporations but what Quart fears is that the current growth of corporate sponsorship in UK schools, if continued at the present rate, makes it increasingly likely that in a few years time there will be little difference between them. Despite the fact that, as recently as 1996, parents and politicians fiercely resisted the idea of advertising in schools, corporations have taken advantage of a recent initiative that saw businesses partnering-up with "under performing" schools. Since then, according to Quart, the doors have opened for branded school supplies and--given the ingenuity and determination of corporate strategists and the naïveté of the educational authorities--the corporate insinuation into our children's minds begins as soon as they leave mother's apron strings.

The heart of the book is very interesting indeed, describing as it does the actual tactics employed by the youth marketing industry and the required mindset necessary to be among the best employees. For instance, at the 2003 Kid Power event in London, conference organisers instructed attendees in how to harness "the power of word of mouth", how to ensure their products are "the talk of the playground", how to get past the "gatekeeper" (Mum and Dad), and to be aware of the influence of "pester power". The marketers wear the clothes of youth, befriend the kids as part of their job, milk them for information on what's hot and what's not and generally get the jump on their competitors by encouraging brand loyalty from as early an age as possible. The book is laced with the views of the teens and 'tweens' themselves as well as personal recollections of Quart's own tween years to add historical perspective.

On the whole Branded is earnest, well written and a little depressing--despite the final section focusing on examples of anti-corporate attitudes and activities among the kids. Readers of Naomi Klein's No Logo will find nothing surprising here, but it's a useful weapon (or rebuke) for parents afflicted with savvy, brand-afflicted teens. --Larry Brown --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Review

"Deserves to command wide attention among millions of families...Quart makes a brilliant case...[and] her book is a necessary warning for parents" (New York Times) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Coming of age in the 1980s, I was aware of status signs and corporate logos and the distinction between them. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but there's better out there 30 Jun 2003
By Jay Oh
Format:Paperback
There seems to have been a rash of similar anti-corporate books hitting the shelves in the last few years, starting with the high profile 'No Logo' by Naomi Klein. 'Branded' takes a specific look at the way advertising and brand images are targetted at those most vulnerable to their lures, namely children and teenagers, and does this reasonably well. The book is intelligent, properly researched and interesting to read; unfortunately it says little that is not in other books of the same ilk. The story of the US high school student who was suspended for wearing a Pepsi t-shirt on a Coca Cola sponsored activity day seems to turn up in dozens of books, and nothing very new is said by its inclusion here. The book seems to lack a definite conclusion - like many, Quart closes by looking at the protestors against the wrongs she has outlined, but this is not really sufficient.
The chapters least related to the premise of the book, 'Cinema of the In-Crowd' and 'Almost Famous: the Teen Literary Sensations', ended up being the most original, providing a genuine insight into the wider issue of teenagers and culture, rather than capitalism. If this is a particular interest of yours, the book'd be worth buying for these chapters alone. 'Branded' is basically a decent read (on a finer scale I'd give it 3.5 stars) for anyone with a broad interest in anti-corporate issues, or who is looking for something immediate and quick to read in this area.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
"Branded - The Buying and Selling of Teenagers" sees Alissa Quart focusing on the increasing pervasion of corporate marketing to teens and pre-teens. She examines the harm that such efforts can cause to children, arguing that it forces youngsters to act in a more 'adult' way far too quickly, and isolates individuals who do not subscribe to opinions on the 'right' labels, stars, movies, etc.
There's no doubt that this is an important subject for study. Quart's book focuses its attention on the United States, though the foreword for this UK version pays lip service to the situation in this country. And much of what Quart argues strikes a chord - it's easy to believe some of the examples and arguments that she puts forward, because they reflect the fears of many adults.
Unfortunately, those arguments are put forward in a simplistic and judgmental way, and by failing to back up her comments with any evidence beyond the anecdotal, Quart loses credibility. The vast majority of her arguments are based on personal opinion, or are supported by nothing more than evidence of single events taken in isolation. There is no attempt to demonstrate credible support for her claims regarding trends in youth marketing, and the exploitation of teens. Quart claims that the standards of dress, image and personality set by corporate marketing are forcing more and more teens into financial difficulties, eating disorders, steroid abuse, and other problems caused by their desire to fit in. These accusations may very well be true - but there is no evidence in this book to support this, other than vague speculation and isolated examples.
Quart seems to have failed to research her subject, and is instead relying on her preconceptions of the issue.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but there's better out there 5 Jun 2008
By Jay Oh
Format:Paperback
There seems to have been a rash of similar anti-corporate books hitting the shelves in the last few years, starting with the high profile 'No Logo' by Naomi Klein. 'Branded' takes a specific look at the way advertising and brand images are targetted at those most vulnerable to their lures, namely children and teenagers, and does this reasonably well. The book is intelligent, properly researched and interesting to read; unfortunately it says little that is not in other books of the same ilk. The story of the US high school student who was suspended for wearing a Pepsi t-shirt on a Coca Cola sponsored activity day seems to turn up in dozens of books, and nothing very new is said by its inclusion here. The book seems to lack a definite conclusion - like many, Quart closes by looking at the protestors against the wrongs she has outlined, but this is not really sufficient.

The chapters least related to the premise of the book, 'Cinema of the In-Crowd' and 'Almost Famous: the Teen Literary Sensations', ended up being the most original, providing a genuine insight into the wider issue of teenagers and culture, rather than capitalism. If this is a particular interest of yours, the book'd be worth buying for these chapters alone. 'Branded' is basically a decent read (on a finer scale I'd give it 3.5 stars) for anyone with a broad interest in anti-corporate issues, or who is looking for something immediate and quick to read in this area.
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Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  23 reviews
51 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Corporate pedophilia" and your children 24 Feb 2003
By Malvin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Alissa Quart's "Branded" explores how America's youth are increasingly subjected to sophisticated but ultimately predatory forms of corporate marketing and branding. While the social reproduction of labor has been defined by capitalist requirements for many years, Ms. Quart amply demonstrates that the co-optation of today's youth has deepened and intensified. For many, the immersion in consumerism is so all-encompassing that it threatens to corrupt and corrode their mental self-images and possibly inhibit their ability to function as enlightened citizens.
Ms. Quart shows that the marketing tactics used are often invasive and unscrupulous, amounting to a sort of "corporate pedophilia" whose aim is to grow the corporate bottom line at the expense of childhood itself. Indeed, the author explains that whole classes of products (such as sexually-provocative undergarments designed for pre-teen girls) are unapologetically marketed to ever-younger children, thereby accelerating the pace at which children develop, perceive and interact with their surroundings. Ms. Quart blasts the justifications used by marketers to defend such indefensible actions and alerts us to the moral vacuousness that lies at the heart of the corporate agenda.
Ms. Quart argues that our children bear unmistakable psychological, physical and financial scars from this assault. Media-induced anxiety leads boys to steroid abuse and girls to anorexia; social acceptance is garnered by the flaunting of expensive designer clothes and accessories; class status is predicated by admission to brand-name colleges; and so on. The end result is a hyper-competitive, anxious and debt-ridden generation of youths who collectively are getting locked into the cycle of labor and consumption at a significantly earlier age than their predecessors.
It may be true that Ms. Quart's work depends heavilly on observations drawn from the ranks of upper middle-class society, but she has impressively succeeded in describing a phenomenon that has largely eluded others. The reader is impressed by the author's ability to synthesize scholarly research, pop culture, business information, anecdotes and first-person interviews to make her case. In short, this is original and cutting-edge research that should give inquisitive readers much to ponder.
I recommend this book to parents of teenagers (like myself) who want to understand more about the brave new world their children are inhabiting as well as to teenagers who want to critically deconstruct and reclaim their branded selves.
33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Seduction of America's Youth 19 Feb 2003
By Mark D. Wolfinger - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Alissa Quart describes how America's youth have been successfully targeted with methods today's kids can't resist. In fact, sometimes it is the parents who encourage their children to become 'branded'.
The clothes they demand, the makeup they use, even the colleges they want to attend; all must be brand names. The hard sell is everywhere: magazine and TV ads are the most obvious, but the movies and music videos they watch, even the video games they play feature brand name items in glamorous settings. Our children succumb to the need to be like the movie stars and pop singers.
It is not enough to want to wear the same brands as the stars and models, they crave to be look-alikes. Thus, teenagers are demanding cosmetic surgeries as never before. Craving to be super thin, some resort to starving themselves (anorexia). The girls want liposection and bodily enhancements; the boys want to be more muscular and powerful. Dangerous medications and surgeries are comsumed in ever increasing numbers by our young generation.
This eye-opening book tells the story. No child is too young to be a target.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good concept, but not totally engaging 17 Jan 2005
By J. A. Brown - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Alissa Quart tackles an admirable and potentially fascinating subject in Branded, yet I was left feeling a bit disappointed after finishing the book. I personally found her writing style a bit stilted, and it seems like there is a lot of information and many observations, yet not so much in-depth analysis. The book itself is not extremely long, so there is definitely room for more expansion. There are countless examples of teen branding in movies, fashion, magazines, advertisements, etc., and the author touches on all of these and more, but somehow the book felt more like a bombardment of information than a nuanced analysis. I had pretty high expectations when I read this book (especially from the many positive editorial reviews available), but it was ultimately not as satisfying an experience as I would have hoped.
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seduction of the Innocent 16 Mar 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
In accessible, often witty prose, Quart shows the corrupting effect that the conscienceless pursuit of profit by corporate marketers has on everything from young girls' body images or young boys'understandings of what it means to be masculine, to the complaisant administrations of public schools. "Seduction of the innocent" is not too strong a term to apply to the corporate behavior that Quart describes; though happily she also focuses on the ways in which many young people have begun to resist being "branded." As an account of the impact of corporatism on daily lives, this book belongs on the shelf next to Naomi Klein's No Logo. It will only not appeal to those who make a living exploiting young people; most others will find it a revelation.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fresh and Disturbing Take on a Rather Tired Argument 23 Sep 2004
By Christopher Weaver - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I found it to be an excellent read, and I'm considering using some excerpts from it to spark writing and discussion in a basic writing class that I teach--a class where I'm always concerned that the readings I use are immediate, accessable and read well.

Although the book's subject is the way that companies market to teenagers, in a sense this is only a subset of the author's larger concern with capitalism and consumer culture. She obviously has a left wing take on this subject, although I disagree with earlier reviewers that her presentation is manipulative or unfair. The issue isn't whether or not companies fill a demand (obviously, they do), but about the lengths to which they go to create that demand. How you feel about this obviously depends on your politics, but Quart's viewpoint seems to me to be reasonable and valid.

My problem is that this argument is just sort of tired. I'm just bored of hearing the same critique of "consumer culture" over and over again. What sets this book apart, though is its focus on marketing to children, and, in particular, the passages where Quart presents the kids' lives through their own words. It's pretty disturbing to hear how closely they identify their own self-worth with the products that they use. I'm not just talking about the idea that they have to conform to a certain image in order to be beautiful--again, this is old news. But about how the almost BECOME the brand that they use. When a teenager named Carrie, a fan of MTV's "Total Request Live" describes her loyalty to that show and to the marketing she does for The Backstreet Boys by saying, "I like the Boys as much as my friends and family"--well, there's something really disturbing about that.
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