like shooting stupid, insecure fish in a barrel (with missiles)

The Washington Post today has a good piece today on the youth of America and their desire to own what they perceive as high-fashion, exclusive, up-scale items. This is one of those rare occasions where I’m not quite sure who I should be pissed at. On the one hand you’ve got the evil marketers who are honing in on this defenseless and impressionable demographic, and on the other you’ve got the stupid kids who embrace these bands out of desperation, hoping that doing so will somehow lead them to a better life, a life like Paris Hilton’s. Of course, then there are the parents, who, for one reason or another, haven’t been able to build a wall around their kids that’s strong enough to take the constant barrage of advertising (both embedded and overt). Regardless of who you blame, however, the whole thing stinks. Here’s a clip:

Designer labels account for about 7 percent of U.S. clothing purchases. But among teen purchases, the figure doubles to 14 percent, said Marshal Cohen, chief analyst with the marketing research company NPD Fashionworld. Marketing experts said those numbers reflect the increasingly sophisticated tastes of American teenagers, who spent $191 billion last year: They don’t drink just coffee. They drink grande skim vanilla lattes with extra foam…..

Gloria Baume, fashion market director for Teen Vogue, said girls often tell her, “I am going to put all my baby-sitting money away until I can afford the Louis Vuitton pouch.”

Several high-end designers even have introduced lines for children and babies in recent years. By targeting youth, marketers hope to develop brand loyalty that will last through adulthood.

And, equally disgusting (while we’re on the subject of corporate crimes against humanity), is this New York Times piece on Lockheed Martin. Here’s a taste:

But in the post-9/11 world, Lockheed has become more than just the biggest corporate cog in what Dwight D. Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex. It is increasingly putting its stamp on the nation’s military policies, too…

To critics, however, Lockheed’s deep ties with the Pentagon raise some questions. “It’s impossible to tell where the government ends and Lockheed begins,” said Danielle Brian of the Project on Government Oversight, a nonprofit group in Washington that monitors government contracts. “The fox isn’t guarding the henhouse. He lives there.”

No contractor is in a better position than Lockheed to do business in Washington. Nearly 80 percent of its revenue comes from the United States government. Most of the rest comes from foreign military sales, many financed with tax dollars. And former Lockheed executives, lobbyists and lawyers hold crucial posts at the White House and the Pentagon, picking weapons and setting policies.

Obviously, war and crisis have been good for business. The Pentagon’s budget for buying new weapons rose by about a third over the last three years, to $81 billion in fiscal 2004, up from $60 billion in 2001. Lockheed’s sales also rose by about a third, to nearly $32 billion in the 2003 calendar year, from $24 billion in 2001. It was the No. 1 recipient of Pentagon primary contracts, with $21.9 billion in fiscal 2003. Boeing had $17.3 billion, Northrop Grumman had $11.1 billion and General Dynamics had $8.2 billion.

Merry Christmas, America.

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4 Comments

  1. Posted November 29, 2004 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    You should see how sleep-deprived our teenagers are because they have to work so many hours at chincy wages in order to pay for their “dreams” (by the way, are you aware of how many teenagers, boys and girls, use styling gel? That’s a huge market right there. Oh, I see a protest–“Plain Hair Day.” We could even recruit Paris Hilton to be our media icon for the event.). However, my biggest concern is this: is the barrage of marketing and advertising ploys turning our children (and adults) into morons? TV commercials make me stupid (Waaaasssss up?).

  2. chris
    Posted November 29, 2004 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    Well, finally something inane and cynical enough that I can comment without having to reflect on the state of world affairs. Kid branding. I find it truly ironic given the current administration’s plans to totally sack social security through privatization (see this week’s Economist editorial) that kids are more concerned about buying Louis Vitton rather than a college education. Although I msut admit I had a few but they were total knock offs and I was 17. Also, anyone hear Brian Lehrer’s show on WNYC, where he interviews the woman who wrote the New Yorker article questioning the purchases of the Bugaboo while the savings bond dude at Babiesrus sat oh so alone. I truly admired her article until I heard what a whacko she was on the interview-is she medicated or does she need to be medicated?

    -enjoy the Vitton baguette it will be a nice place to keep your teeth when you are old…if you can afford them.

  3. mark
    Posted November 30, 2004 at 4:32 am | Permalink

    “Perhaps there’s something like Soma in the hair gel,” he wonders to himself as he eats his breakfast… As for the problem with kids today, I don’t think it’s anything that a draft won’t cure… And thanks for the leads on the stories, Chris. I’ll try to look into them tonight, once I settle down into my blogging chair for the evening with my bottle of wine.

  4. Tony Buttons
    Posted November 30, 2004 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    I considered purchasing Lockheed Martin stock right after 9/11, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it, even after I promised myself that I’d just use 100% of the proceeds for progressive causes. The idea of using their money to fight them was appealing to me, but it just seemed too creepy. I ended up buying a Louis Vitton fanny pack and a subscription to Teen Vogue instead.

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