red tulips | copyright Jill J. Jensen



The Persuaders [PBS Frontline]

what to make of today's marketing and advertizing blitz?


It's been a while since PBS' Frontline series broadcast this report about "the influence of new marketing techniques on the democratic process," but the content remains as relevant as ever.

As electronic media options proliferate, audiences fragment. That brings both challenge and opportunity not only to anyone with a message to share but also to everyone within earshot, sight lines, or contact with a television, iPod, DVD player, digital camera, computer, smartphone, satellite dish, whatever. The permutations seem endless.

What happens to society, relationships, dialogue — even a sense of self, when every interaction is considered a transaction and every item in the world is plastered with a logo? What happens to us when individuals are encouraged to become their own "brand" and market, promote, or publicize any- and everything they do?

That's part of what Frontline's producers investigate and share in The Persuaders. By understanding how market research aims to find out more about each of us and then targets the messages for products and services accordingly, the better we are able to sort out the useful and energizing from the seductive and harmful.

As with most Frontline programs, the entire episode can be viewed online at PBS. (This kind of streaming video works best with a high-speed or broadband connection.)

But even if your Internet connection is slow or you don't want to spend an hour and a half online, check out The Persuaders website for additional information and readable sections of the program.

As always, the website for PBS programs include a teacher's guide, links and readings, interviews, analysis, discussion groups, and a wealth of other resources.


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