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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
This review is from: Branded (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
2.0 out of 5 stars A subject that needs addressing...but maybe not like this., 30 May 2003
This review is from: Branded (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. Her belief in her argument sees her using rather spurious examples to support her arguments. One particularly obvious example is her deconstruction of teen movies. This would have been much more credible if she had shown any evidence of having identified the satirical nature of many of the films and scenes that she mentions. For example she points out that in the film "10 Things I Hate About You" there is a conversation along the lines of 'I like my Skecher trainers, but I love my Prada handbag'. Quart suggests that this scene is encouraging teens to express their emotions in terms of labelled products - whereas in fact the whole scene is poking fun at label obsession. She uses the film "Clueless" as an example of this branded inanity, and fails to understand that the whole movie is a satirical observation (as Jane Austen's 'Emma', which the film is based on, was). I found it difficult to read parts of this book without thinking that Quart was forcing the 'evidence' of her examples to fit her argument (or simply failing to understand that evidence) as opposed to conducting deeper research.
Its a pity really. Quart obviously has strongly held beliefs on this matter, and she writes in a pleasantly accessible style. But without supporting evidence, much of her argument comes across as shallow. There is a very simple claim at the heart of this book - that children are too young to be targetted in the ways utilised by marketing companies. I tend to agree with Quart on this point - but attempts to change this situation should be more objectively argued and strongly backed by evidence, otherwise they lean towards sensationalism rather than genuine debate.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but there's better out there, 5 Jun. 2008
This review is from: Branded (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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Branded by Alissa Quart (Paperback - 1 May 2003)
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