Cover image for Consuming kids : the hostile takeover of childhood
Consuming kids : the hostile takeover of childhood
Linn, Susan.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : New Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
xiv, 288 pages ; 24 cm
The marketing Maelstrom -- 1. Notes from the underground: thirty-six hours at a marketing conference -- 2. A consumer in the family: the nag factor and other nightmares -- 3. Branded babies: from cradle to consumer -- 4. Endangered species: play and creativity -- 5. Students for sale: who profits from marketing in schools? -- 6. Through thick and thin: the weighty problem of food marketing -- 7. Peace-keeping battle stations and smackdown!: selling kids on violence -- 8. From Barbie and Ken to Britney, the Bratz, and beyond: sex as commodity -- 9. Marketing, media, and the First Amendment: what's best for children? -- 10. Joe Camel is dead, but whassup with those Budweiser frogs?: hooking kids on alcohol and tobacco -- 11. If values are right, what's left: life lessons from marketing -- 12. Ending the marketing Maelstrom: you're not alone.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HF5415.32 .L56 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
HF5415.32 .L56 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



A critique of marketing to children

Author Notes

Susan Linn is Instructor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Associate Director of the Media Center at Judge Baker Children's Center in Boston.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Marketing executives have targeted children as the ultimate consumers because they are easily manipulated and able to extract dollars from their parents to satisfy manufactured desires, often against their parents' better judgment. Linn, psychologist and parent, examines how corporate America exploits children and deliberately infects them with obsessive American consumerism. Linn cites research and behind-the-scenes information on marketing strategies that include emphasis on brand names, extreme individualism, and consumerism and the increasing use of child psychologists to plumb knowledge about the vulnerabilities of children, all with a cynical disregard for their welfare. The campaigns--tie-ins between children's characters and products and fast-food meals--blur the lines between programming, literature, and commercial marketing. Linn critiques parents, herself included, for their inability to protect children from aggressive guerilla marketing and offers suggestions on how parents can resist their children's whining for the products they've been encouraged to want and lists resources parents can use to take public action against advertisers. An eye-opening look at marketing to children. --Vanessa Bush Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Like Eric Schlosser in Fast Food Nation, Linn is able to write about a subject people care about and avoid the shrillness that can make such books a chore to read. A psychologist and children's advocate, Linn is openly critical of the corporate bottom line and focuses on what will benefit children and families. Her exhaustively researched picture is of a $15 billion industry in near-total denial about the effects it has. Executives traffic in transparently self-serving rhetoric, extolling the educational value of such seemingly bland fare as Teletubbies or claiming to be developing toddlers' incipient need for control. The concept of "prenatal marketing" need not be exhaustively described to send a shiver down the spine of any mother-to-be. Linn points out that successful marketing is often in direct opposition to what's good for society. Sex, violence and sugar-packed snacks obviously hold great appeal for youngsters, and there exists, he says, no countervailing social force to effectively check their influence. Linn demonstrates how marketers research methods to make children more effective naggers-thus undermining parental authority-and TV programming executives spike the chilling metric known as "jolts per minute." Linn works hard not only to put together a truly devastating case against the marketers, but also to couch it in the most reasonable terms possible; indeed, the entire book is really an appeal to common sense: that we as a society take better care of our children. Savvy enough to avoid sounding "like someone's old maiden aunt," Linn presents a socially conscious account that deserves wide exposure. Agent, Andrew Stuart. (May 6) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

"Every aspect of children's lives-their physical and mental health, their education, their creativity, and their values-is negatively affected by their involuntary status as consumers in the marketplace," argues child psychologist and advocate Linn (Harvard Univ.) in this forceful expos? of the $15 billion industry of marketing to children. Undercover at the KidScreen Advertising and Promoting to Kids conference in New York City, she discovers how companies build brand loyalty and license products whether doing so "is good for kids or not." Links between advertising to children and societal problems like family stress, childhood obesity, violence, sexuality, and drug addiction are carefully delineated. Linn also demonstrates disturbing correlations between childhood obesity and television viewing and shows how marketers influence family spending with "pester power." She addresses promoting pop idols to preteens and the "glorified bullying" of World Wrestling Entertainment. While Linn acknowledges that parents must do their part to stop the "marketing maelstrom," she counters with substantial evidence why they "cannot do it alone." This illuminating read has a place on all library shelves next to Alissa Quart's Branded: The Buying and Selling of Teenagers. [For an interview with the author, see "Sugar Babies," p. 95.-Ed.]-Heather O'Brien, Acadia Univ. Lib., Wolfville, N.S. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Linn (psychiatry, Harvard Medical School) combines real-life stories, child development theory and research, and commentary from marketing experts to describe the huge problem families face of having their children targeted by corporate America. The result is a chilling and terrifying account of how "the kid market" has been pressured to recognize brand names, consume unwittingly, and believe that they must purchase items (or have items purchased for them) to create not only happiness but also self-esteem, self-worth, and self-identity. The author explores the selling of sexuality, violence, alcohol, and tobacco products as she demonstrates how those in the advertising industry claim that they affect "brand choice" but not the decision to drink, smoke, engage in sex, or be violent. Those who read this book--parents especially--will see their ethical obligation to combat the effects of such commercialism on children. Linn is thoughtful enough to conclude with a chapter detailing what parents can do at home, in the community, in the marketplace, and in the policy arena to encourage advertising executives to recognize that children are children rather than commercial opportunities to be exploited. ^BSumming Up: Essential. All collections; all levels. R. B. Stewart Jr. Oakland University

Table of Contents

Penelope Leach
Forewordp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Introduction: The Marketing Maelstromp. 1
1. Notes from the Underground: Thirty-Six Hours at a Marketing Conferencep. 11
2. A Consumer in the Family: The Nag Factor and Other Nightmaresp. 31
3. Branded Babies: From Cradle to Consumerp. 41
4. Endangered Species: Play and Creativityp. 61
5. Students for Sale: Who Profits from Marketing in Schools?p. 75
6. Through Thick and Thin: The Weighty Problem of Food Marketingp. 95
7. Peace-Keeping Battle Stations and Smackdown!: Selling Kids on Violencep. 105
8. From Barbie and Ken to Britney, the Bratz, and Beyond: Sex As Commodityp. 125
9. Marketing, Media, and the First Amendment: What's Best for Children?p. 145
10. Joe Camel Is Dead, but Whassup with Those Budweiser Frogs?: Hooking Kids on Alcohol and Tobaccop. 157
11. If Values Are Right, What's Left?: Life Lessons from Marketingp. 175
12. Ending the Marketing Maelstrom: You're Not Alonep. 195
Appendix Resourcesp. 221
Notesp. 233
Suggested Readingp. 271
Indexp. 275