"I feel television has died. It's such a make-the-doughnuts mentality. It's about finding 48 minutes of material so you can have 12 minutes of good commercials. If they thought they could get good commercials out of 10 people being naked and spinning on their heads in the middle of an island, that's what they'll do."

- Hill Harper (City of Angels) in TV Guide Online

“We worry about so many dangers to our children—drugs, perverts, bullies—but seldom notice the biggest menace of all: the multibillion-dollar marketing effort aimed at turning the kids into oversexed, status-obsessed, attention-deficient little consumers.”

- Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed via Simple to Remember

"Watching TV thus creates something of treadmill... television viewing plays a key role in crowding-out social activities with solitary ones... television can play a significant role in raising people's materialism and material aspirations, thus leading individuals to underestimate the relative importance of interpersonal relations for their life satisfaction and, as a consequence, to over-invest in income-producting activities and under-invest in relational activities..." 

- Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirkey (page 8)

The Purpose of TV

"Cable aside, the television industry is not in the business of selling programs to audiences. It is in the business of selling audiences to advertisers. Issues of "quality" and "social responsibility" are entirely peripheral to the issue of maximizing audience size within a competitive market."

There are many ways to talk about television. But in a "Business" perspective, let's be realistic : basicaly, TF1's job is to help Coca-Cola sell its product, for instance. To make the advertising message well received, the audience's brain must be available. Our shows are here to make the brain available, to entertain it, to relax it, to prepare it between two messages. What we're selling to Coca-Cola is available human brain time. Nothing is as difficult as getting this availability. ~ Patrick Le Lay, CEO of TF1, the main french TV-channel

Extremely strong brands - MTV, VH1, Paramount, Nickelodeon and E! - that allow us a fantastic relationship with those 'hard-to-reach' audiences. Our working mantra is: insight, ideas, partnership. We focus on advertising effectiveness, which means we care about results.   How important is programming to children within this?   Strong programming is essential in delivering the audience and representing the brand values.

"This is significant when we consider that the most essential product of the advertising industry is hunger. That is, commercials are intended to create a feeling of lack in the viewer, a deep ache that can only be assuaged by purchasing the product. As Dr. Neil Postman, chairman of the Department of Communications Arts at New York University, points out, “What the advertiser needs to know is not what is right about the product but what is wrong about the buyer.” So we hand our children over to Madison Avenue to be told, hundreds of hours a year, how hungry, bored, ugly, and unpopular they are and will continue to be until they spend (or persuade their parents to spend) a few more dollars. And then we wonder why our children feel so hungry, bored, ugly, and unpopular, and why they are so needy."

Selling Cool

“We the people have somehow lost our ability to create our own cool, and now we are getting our cool from corporations who use celebrities like Britney Spears and all kinds of devices to sell us a pseudo cool.”

The Manchurian consumer: are you authentic? (II)

This Post is So Mayo

"If it makes consumers feel good to avoid Big Brother, if it makes them feel good to think they are fighting against the system, the system will sell them that feeling."

Ben Stiller builds on a media-created identity, as well as the training of a 'hip' audience, in order to romanticize the consumerism of the poor leisure class.

Why Are Murder and Gang Rape Used to Sell Luxury Goods to Women?

Commodifying the Women’s Movement

"Commodifying the Women’s Movement" - Society Pages (Feb 2008)

"Ladies, Buy Your Independence Here!" - Society Pages (July 2008)

"Virginia Slims Ads: Commodifying Freedom" - Society Pages (Feb 2008)

“You’ve Got Your Own Cigarette Now, Baby!” - Society Pages (June 2009)

Women and Advertising

"But women's hatred of the way they look didn't just appear out of thin air. It was implanted in us in a variety of ways, but primarily through advertising that uses "idealized" images of beauty and asks us to compare ourselves to them. After all, women and girls didn't think a whole lot about how they looked before capitalism. Historians such as Joan Brumberg have shown that adolescent girls prior to advertising tended to think about their inner make-up-- were they kind and good and devout. But with advertising early on telling women to buy creams, "slim" down, put on a bra and generally engage in what Brumberg calls the "body project," young girls started to worry far more about cellulite on their thighs than goodness in their hearts. Some social psychology studies indicate that even women with high levels of self-esteem will feel worse about themselves after looking at these idealized images found in advertising. So capitalism created the problem of women being ugly and also created the solution: beauty products. It is an ingenious business plan." - Psychology Today (April 2013)


"Watch not, want not? Kids' TV time tied to consumerism"  -  Stanford Report (April 2006)

"Juliet Schor, a leading scholar on the culture of consumerism in the U.S., recently said that we have reached a critical point in our culture: The average American woman now buys more than 52 items of new clothing each year — more than one per week. Of course, women don’t need that many new clothes, yet they buy them anyway. Why? Well, much to our chagrin, most of us have been brainwashed by our consumer culture to over-consume. Worse, over time this hyper-consumption has become part of our identities. Our values, attitudes, habits, and practices reflect this culture of addiction."  -  Get Rich Slowly (June 2001)

"Dr. Schor from Harvard University wrote the book The Overspent American which provides some marvelous insights on television watching. She conducted a large-scale study of American spending and saving habits and correlated the results with other lifestyle factors. She concluded that for every hour of television a person watches per week, the average American spends $200. Sitting in front of the television five extra hours a week (two sitcoms a night) raises your yearly spending by about $1000. Indebtedness as an outgrowth of TV watching arises not so much from viewers repeated exposure to advertising, but from their attempts to emulate the lavish lifestyles enjoyed by fictional characters in soap operas and prime-time television dramas. The more television people watch the more they tend to believe that ordinary citizens have servants, limousines, and huge houses.  -  Mercola (Jan 2008)

"And as the advertising industry increasingly aims commercial pitches directly at the very young, more and more companies are turning to child psychologists to help them hone their message."

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous: Does Television Make Us More Materialistic?

"The real concerns of yesterday's poor have become the imagined concerns of today's rich," said Dr Hamilton. "This 'deprivation syndrome' induces politicians to distort policy to reduce the burden of taxation and increase public payments to wealthy households."

Buying Happiness: The Depressing Reality of Materialism

Using Psychology to Sell

"Advertising and marketing firms have long used the insights and research methods of psychology in order to sell products, of course. But today these practices are reaching epidemic levels, and with a complicity on the part of the psychological profession that exceeds that of the past. The result is an enormous advertising and marketing onslaught that comprises, arguably, the largest single psychological project ever undertaken. Yet, this great undertaking remains largely ignored by the American Psychological Association."

Advertising and Free Will

The Century of the Self - "The business and, increasingly, the political world uses psychological techniques to read and fulfill our desires, to make their products or speeches as pleasing as possible to us. Curtis raises the question of the intentions and roots of this fact. Where once the political process was about engaging people's rational, conscious minds, as well as facilitating their needs as a society, the documentary shows how by employing the tactics of psychoanalysis, politicians appeal to irrational, primitive impulses that have little apparent bearing on issues outside of the narrow self-interest of a consumer population. He cites Paul Mazer, a Wall Street banker working for Lehman Brothers in the 1930s: "We must shift America from a needs- to a desires-culture. People must be trained to desire, to want new things, even before the old have been entirely consumed. [...] Man's desires  must overshadow his needs.""

Freud's Nephew and Public Relations

"They noted that since memory was fallible and malleable, advertisers could win back consumers who thought they'd had bad experiences with their products. From the advertiser's standpoint, they wrote, "you want the consumer to be involved enough that they process the false information" but "not so involved that … they notice the discrepancy between the advertising information and their own experience."" - Slate (May 2010)

"Can nostalgic advertising re-write your childhood memories?" - Psychology Today Blog (July 2011)

"Since the Langer study, an enormous amount of research has looked at when and why people are persuaded by weak arguments just as easily as by strong ones, much of this work being led by John Cacioppo and Richard Petty. It turns out that the circumstances under which people are the least sensitive to the quality of an argument are the same situations in which they are most likely to be swayed by very superficial cues such as the attractiveness of a speaker, his or her reputation, or even how many arguments are made—regardless of their content. It seems, then, that where inattentiveness closes one door to persuasion, it opens another." - Psychology Today Blog (July 2011)

"Why are our desires and choices so easily shaped by marketing?" - Psychology Today Blog (Aug 2012)


There has not been nearly enough studies on the effects of television (the medium) on the brain.  The exception to this is the Advertising Industry which has done quite a bit of research on the effects of TV advertising using MRI and EEG machines.  They know that TV advertising, unlike print advertising bypasses our critical faculties and go directly to our emotions.

"Inside a lab at a company called NeuroFocus, test subjects are having their eye movements and brainwaves measured as they watch commercials to see what they respond to at a subconscious level." - ABC News (Feb 2011)

"In early August, the British magazine New Scientist published a cover that had scored well on a test conducted by neuromarketers, who study the brain’s response to products. But the question remained: would that good review translate to sales on the newsstand? The short answer is yes." - The New York Times (Sept 2010)

"U.S. advertisers spent nearly $500 per American last year. But what makes one ad persuasive and another a dud? Two Bay Area firms have adapted brain scanning technology to gain insight into the science of spending."  -  San Francisco Chronicle (May 2008)

"NEVER mind brainstorms. These days, Madison Avenue is all about brain waves. That may be overstated, but it is no exaggeration that agencies and advertisers are growing more interested in neuroscience in their never-ending efforts to improve effectiveness." - The New York Times (March 2008)

"The Nielsen Co. is to announce today a strategic investment in and alliance with NeuroFocus, which specializes in the practice of measuring brain waves to determine consumers’ responses to marketing messages." - Commercial Alert (Feb 2008)

"Brain scans are helping advertisers find out how to light up customers' brains, reports Paul Bray"  -  The Telegraph (Jan 2007)

"Marketers may have your number, neurologically speaking: A new study finds that familiar brands evoke faster, more positive responses in the brain than lesser-known brands."  -  Washington Post (Nov 2006)

"Who Really Won The Super Bowl?" - Edge (2006)

"By taking neuromarketing out of the lab and into the mall, a small British firm is helping world-class advertisers make their pitches more effective."  -  CNN Money (Aug 2005)

"What is going on inside our heads when we make such decisions? Marketers would certainly like to know. With modern neurotechnology, they are beginning to find out."  -  Scientific American (May 2005)

"Last year he decided to repeat the Pepsi Challenge, but scan the activity of the brain at the same time. Using a non-invasive technique called functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the scans reveal which parts of the brain are active in real time."  -  Brand Channel (March 2004)

"There's a Sucker Born in Every Medial Prefrontal Cortex"  -  The New York Times (Oct 2003)

Subliminal Advertising

"Putting all this together, then, subliminal advertising can have some effects on your choices, though it will not turn you into a robot.  First, subliminal ads only have an effect if you are already motivated to pursue a goal.  So, the subliminal ad will not make you do something you don't want to do.  Second, subliminal ads have their strongest effect when they make it easier for you to think about something that is not normally your habit."  -  Psychology Today Blog (May 2011)

"Apparently, I'm not the only one who wondered. In 2008, psychologists Joel Weinberger and Drew Westen carried out their own experimental RATS campaign, and found that subliminally flashing RATS (as opposed to a word like STAR, or symbols like XXXX) before showing study volunteers a photo of a fictional political candidate caused them to report a more negative impression of that candidate." - Psychology Today Blog (Jan 2011)

"Humans Can Learn from Subliminal Cues Alone"  -  Wired (Aug 2008)

"Subliminal Messages Can Influence People In Surprising Ways"  -  Science Daily (Jan 2008)

"Subliminal Advertising Leaves Its Mark On The Brain"  -  Science Daily (March 2007)

Passive Learning

Herbert Krugman: Learning Without Involvement


"Unintended consequences? Food ads automatically prime eating in children and adults" - Media and Public (Feb 2010)

"The sneaky and unconscious part is that people were not aware that the ads had influenced them. When the adults were asked why they were eating, they typically reported they were just hungry. As with Bargh's other research, people were not aware that their behaviors had been primed by their recent experiences. People were eating without awareness that the ads were causing them to eat.  One possible mechanism is that the pleasure associated with eating presented in the ads primed eating behaviors in general. Thus even if people do not remember which products were advertised, the ads will affect their behavior. In my previous blog, I argued that beer ads are often a failure because people can't remember which brand of beer was advertised (or at least I can't, see Beer, Humor, and Memory). But what if that isn't the goal? What if the goal is sneakier? What if the goal is simply more beer consumption? In that case, the ad may be effective. People watching those ads may drink more. Junk food and beer ads may increase consumption. The particular product then gets its regular share of that additional consumption. The ad may be effective even when not remembered." - Psychology Today Blog (Aug 2010)

The Subconscious Brain - Who’s Minding the Mind?

"Prompts in the environment make their way beneath your conscious radar and into your mind, affecting your mood and behaviour. Past research has shown that a briefcase, as opposed to a rucksack, on a table, leads people to behave more competitively. A wall poster featuring a pair of staring eyes increases people's use of an honesty box. And a 2009 study found that pictures of companionable dolls increased the likelihood that toddlers would help a stranger pick up sticks they'd dropped. Now Mark Rubin at the University of Newcastle has added to this literature with an adult study showing that pictures of companionship don't just increase the giving of help, they also increase the intention to seek help."  -  BP Research (July 2011)

"In a series of studies published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Karl Aquino, Marjorie Laven, and I we show that people exposed to acts of uncommon goodness or virtue were significantly more likely to behave in prosocial ways." - Psychology Today Blog (April 2011)

"Scanlon and Polage created a few picture ads and asked students for their opinions. Participants saw both a genuinely smiling model (i.e., a Duchenne smile which is “the true smile” because people cannot fake it) and a model without a Duchenne smile.  So does the type of smile matter in an ad? Yes! When the model displayed a Duchenne smile, the participants were more willing to buy, and pay higher prices for, that product. Moreover, these results were consistent for both expensive (e.g. a laptop) and inexpensive (e.g. a sandwich) products. The researchers concluded that seeing an ad where the model had a Duchenne smile primed people with a positive emotional response, which leaked over to the product."  -  Psychology Today (Aug 2012)

"We are constantly bombarded with messages that prompt us to think like “consumers” rather than as people. This subtle “priming” happens all the time, and that study demonstrated that fostering a consumer mentality has real, and unfortunate, consequences for how we think and behave."  -  Psychology Today (April 2012)

Affective Conditioning

"However, ads also do other things. One thing they do is to take a product and to put it next to lots of other things that we already feel positively about. For example, an ad for detergent may have fresh flowers, cute babies, and sunshine in it. All of these things are ones that we probably feel pretty good about already. And repeatedly showing the detergent along with other things that we feel good about can make us feel good about the detergent, too. This transfer of our feelings from one set of items to another is called affective conditioning (the word affect means feelings)."

"The people who went through the affective conditioning procedure picked the pen that was paired with positive items 70-80% of the time. They chose this pen, even though they had information that the other pen was better. Over the two studies in this paper, the authors found that people chose the pen that was paired with positive objects even when people were given as much time as they wanted to make a choice, and even when the instructions specifically encouraged them to pick the best choice and to say why they were choosing a particular pen."

"These results suggest that the most powerful effect of advertising is just to create a good feeling about a product by surrounding it with other things that you like. It is also important to point out that affective conditioning is most effective when you don't realize that it is happening. That is, trying to pay less attention to the ads you see on TV and in magazines may actually make this type of advertising more effective."  -  Psychology Today Blog (Aug 2010)

"For some of us, the increasingly popular practice of celebrity product endorsements is puzzling. What difference does it make if Brad Pitt recommends a particular pen, or Sally Field a certain cereal? Unless the famous spokesperson has a specific area of expertise — say, Tiger Woods endorsing a set of golf clubs — why would anyone care? A new study suggests the answer involves superstar-specific happy memories stored in our cerebral cortex. Using brain-scan technology, researchers found those positive emotions get transferred from the personality to the product, producing a more positive impression of the item in question and, presumably, a greater probability of purchasing it." - Alternet (June 2010)

It's not just TV commercials that effect our behavior, but also the shows themselves.

Yet more interesting than the overwhelming volume of viewers was the effect the show had on the audience

"These dramas capitalize on psychologists' knowledge of the powerful--and sometimes scary--influences television can have on children and adults."

"The most common (and pervasive) examples of social learning situations are television commercials. Commercials suggest that drinking a certain beverage or using a particular hair shampoo will make us popular and win the admiration of attractive people. Depending upon the component processes involved (such as attention or motivation), we may model the behavior shown in the commercial and buy the product being advertised. "

"REALITY TV shows are fuelling Britain's record-breaking £50 billion-a-year gambling habit."

Social Norms Marketing

"The authors placed pictures in cafeteria lunch trays. The photo showed veggies in one of the lunch plate compartments, suggesting that other students typically placed vegetables in that compartment. The results? Children put more veggies on their plates. The cost? About $12 and two hours of time, for 600 children.

Why was this so effective? Social psychology has long shown the power of social norms. We often do what others are doing, and conforming (or fitting in) is a goal especially powerful to children. If everyone starts listening to a certain band, many will follow. Of course, if smoking or underage drinking becomes common, it is hard to stop youth from doing that too. In this case, the mere illusion that vegetable choice is common among their peers increased the likelihood of including a veggie as a part of their lunch."  -    Psychology Today (Feb 2012)

"This research consistently shows that fiction does mold us. The more deeply we are cast under a story’s spell, the more potent its influence. In fact, fiction seems to be more effective at changing beliefs than nonfiction, which is designed to persuade through argument and evidence. Studies show that when we read nonfiction, we read with our shields up. We are critical and skeptical. But when we are absorbed in a story, we drop our intellectual guard. We are moved emotionally, and this seems to make us rubbery and easy to shape."  -   Boston.com (April 2012)

Product Placement / Branded Entertainment

"Are Bloody Slasher Movies Good for Product Placement?" - Pacific Standard (Feb 2014)

"American TV drama series Mad Men has triggered a dramatic boom in the sales of Lucky Strike cigarettes, causing outrage among anti-smoking campaigners." - The Telegraph (Sept 2013)

"Man of Steel (Warner Bros., 143 minutes) is a commendable, if patently flawed, summer blockbuster... Putting all that aside, one of the most fascinating things about this movie is how blatantly littered with product placement it is—roughly $160 million in product placement and promotions went into its makers' coffers." - Mother Jones (June 2013)  and  Advertising Age (June 2013)

"F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote a book about the very nasty things that happen when we set money as the marker of our value. But you wouldn’t know it from Lurhmann’s film, which celebrates the love of wealth and comes with more shopping tie-ins than the beads in Daisy’s dress." - Alternet (May 2013)

"Product Placement Can Be A Lot More Powerful Than We Realize" - Psychology Today (March 2013) 

"The line between entertainment and advertising is becoming increasingly blurred. For example, The Hub, a television network aimed at children that has a 50 percent ownership stake by the toy manufacturer Hasbro was launched in 2010. Commercials aside, this channel’s programming is basically a direct marketing platform for selling Hasbro toys." - Psychology Today (Sept 2012) 

"In a move that has shaken the Twitterverse, Daniel Craig is set to star as Bond in a new Heineken beer advert. The beer brand also features in at least one scene in the new Bond movie. The deal between the moviemakers and the giant Dutch beer brand is said to be worth £30 million with Bond also due to appear on Heineken packaging." -  Daily Mail (April 2012)  and  The Guardian (April 2012)

2012 Brandcameo Award: Mercedes-Benz - Stone Management (Jan 2012)

"Can we ever escape product placement? "Supersize Me" star Morgan Spurlock explains how ad campaigns have penetrated every part of American life" - Salon (July 2011)

"Within two weeks of the movie's premiere, Reese's Pieces sales went through the roof. (Disagreement exists as to how far through the roof they went: Sales were variously described as having tripled, experienced an 85% jump, or increased by 65%). Whatever the numbers, though, Reese's Pieces — up until then an underdog confection only faintly known by the U.S. candy-consuming public — were suddenly being consumed in great handfuls. And all thanks to a shy little alien lured from the bushes and into America's hearts by a trail of peanut-butter-in-a-candy-coated-shell confections."  -  Snopes (May 2011)

"Movies Loaded With Images of Junk Food" -  HealthOMG (March 2011)  and  US News Health (March 2011)

Product placements in movies: When they work, and when they don't  -  Cognitive Daily (Oct 2009)

"Advertisers Up The Ante As Products Become TV Plots"  -  The Christian Science Monitor (Nov 2008)

"There's something rotten about Enchanted."  -  Slate (Nov 2007)

"Television today disproportionately portrays the super well-off"  -  Elaine Meyer (Sept 2007)  and  Salon (Sept 2007)

"The scene does not simply mock the rise of product placements on television; it is a product placement. Unusually for a corporate sponsor, Burger King allowed the show to have some fun with their brand, but make no mistake—product placement is not a joke. In fact, over the last five years, it has been quietly helping to reshape the economics of broadcast television, which for decades has relied on high-priced thirty second spots."  -  Arts Technica (March 2006)

"Hollywood unions for actors and writers want a code of conduct for placing products in movies and TV."  -  The Christian Science Monitor (Nov 2005)

Product placement - Wikipedia

Product placement - Source Watch

Branded entertainment - Wikipedia

Product placement - How Stuff Works

Glorifying (and Selling) Guns

"As improbable as it sounds, there's an important moment in the '98 thriller U.S. Marshals. In the middle of their introduction, Tommy Lee Jones throws Robert Downey Jr. a withering stare and snarls: ''Get yourself a Glock. Lose that nickel-plated sissy pistol.''

It's a throwaway line in a subpar movie, but it serves as a reminder of one of Hollywood's dirtiest little secrets — that, just like chips or beer, guns get product placement. In fact, for years now, the adversarial gun and film industries have indirectly been in business together, using each other to sell their products even as they cudgel one another on the op-ed pages.

It shouldn't be surprising. By common estimate, approximately 60 percent of Hollywood films feature at least one firearm, and they're almost always recognizable brands. And while it's no secret that movies have long used guns to sell tickets, few know that the placement of guns in films can have a direct effect on firearm sales.

''The .44 Magnum Model 29 is the classic example,'' explains Andrew Molchan, director of the National Association of Federally Licensed Firearms Dealers. ''It was a slow-selling, overly powerful handgun, then Dirty Harry happened [in 1971] and sales exploded. It just goes to show how powerful this kind of advertising can be.''"  -  Entertainment Weekly (June 1999)


"A recent study reported in The Wall Street Journal showed that there were measurable differences in how subjects felt about themselves depending on what brands they used. For example, students who composed resumes on iMacs expected to make significantly more from the jobs they were applying for than those who used generic peripherals." - Psychology Today Blog (Feb 2011)

Advertising Works

"So, the question persists: How does Facebook expect to become a huge business if most people you know never click on ads?

The answer is surprisingly obvious. It’s a fact well-known to advertisers, though it’s not always appreciated by people who use Facebook or even by folks in the Web ad business: Clicks don’t matter. Whether you know it or not—even if you consider yourself skeptical of marketing—the ads you see on Facebook are working. Sponsored messages in your feed are changing your behavior—they’re getting you and your friends to buy certain products instead of others, and that’s happening despite the fact that you’re not clicking, and even if you think you’re ignoring the ads.

This isn’t conjecture. It’s science. It’s based on a remarkable set of in-depth studies that Facebook has conducted to show whether and how its users respond to ads on the site. The studies demonstrate that Facebook ads influence purchases and that clicks don’t matter." - Slate (Marchl 2013)


"Against almost every expectation, nearly half of all people watching delayed shows are still slouching on their couches watching messages about movies, cars and beer. According to Nielsen, 46 percent of viewers 18 to 49 years old for all four networks taken together are watching the commercials during playback, up slightly from last year."

Smoking - Ads & Product Placement

"Exposure to cigarette advertising causes people to give in to unrelated temptations, such as eating unhealthy food or drinking excessively, according to research conducted at the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario." - Globe & Mail (June 2011)

"Does the fact that Cameron Diaz smokes a cigarette in the movie Bad Teacher, or that Tom Hanks smokes a pipe in the movie Larry Crowne, really make viewers more likely to smoke?" - Psychology Todayl (July 2011)

"Then I started watching Mad Men. Only one month into being a non-smoker, I was still in a vulnerable state. And seeing Don Draper and his cohorts take drag after drag after drag, I started to pine for that terrible rush of nausea again. I mean, they looked so elegant when their lives weren't dissolving into a series of vices!... The way I saw it, if you saw people eating pizza for six hours at a time, wouldn't you want a slice, too? And isn't sheer exposure the most basic tenet of advertising?" - Psychology Todayl (July 2011)

The Third-Person Effect

This Under-the-Radar (pdf) article makes a very good point that while people will recognize that the media can have large effects on others, they tend to discount it's effects on themselves.  This is called the third-person effect.   This effect helps to explain, I think, the public's blaze attitude towards television, and advertising in general.

Advertising and Free Will

"What they found, in study after study, was that participants thought others would be influenced by the message, but that they themselves would remain unaffected. When psychologists looked at the results, though, it was clear that participants were just as influenced as other people. This was dubbed the 'third-person effect'." - PsyBlog (August 2010)


The Spider and the Fly Poem...

"The Spider turned him round about, and went into his den, 

For well he knew the silly Fly would soon come back again: 

So he wove a subtle web, in a little corner sly, 

And set his table ready, to dine upon the Fly. 

Then he came out to his door again, and merrily did sing, 

"Come hither, hither, pretty Fly, with the pearl and silver wing; 

Your robes are green and purple -- there's a crest upon your head; 

Your eyes are like the diamond bright, but mine are dull as lead!" 

30-Second Seduction: How Advertisers Lure Women Through Flattery, Flirtation, and Manipulation

20 Simple Steps to the Perfect Persuasive Message

"20 Simple Steps to the Perfect Persuasive Message... 7. Match message and medium: One useful rule of thumb is: if the message is difficult to understand, write it; if it's easy, put it in a video... 10. Repetition: whether or not a statement is true, repeating it a few times gives the all-important illusion of truth. The illusion of truth leads to the reality of persuasion... 13. Minimise distraction: if you've got a strong message then audiences are more swayed if they pay attention. If the arguments are weak then it's better if they're distracted... 15. Disguise: messages are more persuasive if they don't appear to be intended to persuade or influence as they can sidestep psychological reactance (hence the power of overheard arguments to change minds)...  " - PsyBlog (Dec 2010)

Media Literacy

"This viewpoint exemplifies early theories of consumer development—first proposed by Ward, Wackman and Wartella in the 1970’s—when companies first started to target advertising to children. These theories posit that once children understand the persuasive intent of advertising they possess a “cognitive filter” to protect them from unwanted influence.

This belief that children can be “inoculated” against the effects of advertising is the basis for teaching media literacy in schools. No one would argue that teaching children that advertising sometimes tries to exploit and even lie to consumers would be a bad thing. Except for one thing—there is no evidence that understanding the motives behind food advertising actually reduces its effects on children’s food preferences.

Many researchers have tried to show that media literacy training can teach children to resist advertising for unhealthy foods. These studies do show that media literacy can increase children’s skepticism about food advertising. However, recent research also shows that greater skepticism does not reduce the effectiveness of food advertising. " - Psychology Today (Feb 2014)

"Does Media Education Work?" - Association for Media Literacy (Feb 2013)

"It seems peculiar, therefore, that Dove would offer a film demonstrating the ubiquitous attack of the beauty industry that ends with the suggestion to parents that they are the ones to make a difference by simply talking to their kids. If the industry is the problem, it strikes me as odd that the parents are supposed to be the solution. “Peculiar?” “Odd?” Maybe the word “suspicious” is a better fit. Telling parents to talk to their children is not unusual as a public relationsPhilip Morris Talk to your Kids; They’ll Listen strategy. For instance, Philip Morris, among other companies, has long been pushing that message in its “public service” ads, particularly since the industry began to face a real threat of tort liability in the 1990s. The message seems public-spirited, but most industry analysts believe that Philip Morris is delivering, not a public-service message to parents, but a responsibility-shifting message to the public: kids smoke because of uninvolved or irresponsible parents, not because of anything that Philip Morris has done." - The Situationist (Oct 2007)


"In the PBS Frontline program, "The Persuaders," there is an interesting analysis of the similarities between the reasons people "join" a brand and the reasons they join a cult. Some in the advertising industry have studied cults, and applied some of what they've learned to advertising strategies. One thing that both have in common is that they try to bypass reason in order to get people to behave in the desired manner." - Psychology Today (Oct 2011)

"Is Lebron James Fattening His Wallet by Fattening Our Kids?" - Psychology Today (Jan 2014)

"Educating kids will not solve the problem. It would be great if we could solve the obesity crisis by teaching kids about nutrition. But I don’t know any kids who don’t already know that they should eat fruits and vegetables instead of potato chips and cookies – yet advertising has helped convince them that the unhealthy stuff tastes better and is more fun! Teaching media literacy to kids is another potential solution that no one could object to – but there’s also no evidence that kids can learn to defend against the psychologically-based tactics that companies use to appeal to young consumers." - Psychology Today (March 2013)

Using Irony to Sell

Boxed In: The Culture of TV (1988)


Interview with Boxed In Author Mark Cristin Miller

"There was a magazine in 1934 launched, it was called Bunk... its main purpose, the raison d'Ítre was to make fun of advertising, and all it was, was a series of parody ads, ya know. Now. Inside of two years, Bunk had become a premier advertising vehicle, you see? In other words, the advertiser had himself learned how to knock the product. The advertiser had learned to dispense with a kind of reference, solemnity, that had characterized a lot of advertising up to the '20s. Now a kind of jeering skepticism seemed to be called for. That was a very important lesson. One of the things I want to demonstrate in Boxed In is the ways in which both our political leaders and our mass advertisers have managed to use television to put across the same kind of calculated derision as a way to make people think that they see through things and to flatter the people for apparently seeing through things, but the point is that that penetration is only superficial, and doesn't really constitute a seeing-through."

Product placement in the DVR era

I believe this is the conceit of Media Literacy, that if you are smart, sophisticated and well-informed you won't get suckered. Instead, unlike the gullible public, you'll be savvy enough to see through any media manipulations.

Marketing to Children: Countries where ads targeting children are banned or restricted

"In the United Kingdom, Greece, Denmark, and Belgium advertising to children is restricted, and in Quebec, Sweden and Norway advertising to children under the age of 12 is illegal." - Wikipedia

"Sweden Pushes Its Ban on Children's Ads"

Other Countries Restrict Advertising to Children

"A comparison group of children from Sweden, where advertising to children is not permitted, asked for significantly fewer items. It is argued that English children who watch more TV, and especially those who watch alone, may be socialised to become consumers from a very early age. "

"In Sweden it is considered unacceptable and is banned for children under 12 with the approval of the majority of the population."

"The province of Quebec in Canada has the lowest childhood obesity rates in the country despite having one of the most sedentary lifestyles. How is that possible? A study by Tirtha Dhar and Kathy Baylis found that Quebec’s 32 year ban on advertising to children led to an estimated: - US$88 million annual reduction in expenditures on fast food - 13.4 billion to 18.4 billion fewer fast food calories being consumed per year. The study also found that patterns established in childhood carried into adulthood, with French speaking young adults in Quebec being 38% less likely to purchase fast food than French speaking young adults in Ontario (where there is no advertising ban)."  -  Care2 (June 2012)  and   Journal of Marketing Research (2011)

"Tighter Regulations Recommended On Food Advertisements During Children's TV Viewing Times" - Science Daily (Oct 2010)

"A ban on fast food advertisements in the United States could reduce the number of overweight children by as much as 18 percent, according to a new study being published this month in the Journal of Law and Economics." - Science Daily (Nov 2008)

Marketing to Children

"Popular culture doesn’t want to raise human beings. Instead, it wants to create “human consumings” whose primary purpose in life is to spend and devour. Human consumings buy, buy, and buy in the mistaken belief that it will bring them happiness. You can observe ravenous young human consumings every day in the malls, buying clothes and shoes “they absolutely must have!” Happy children are human beings, not human consumings. Being involves children finding happiness not in things, but in experiences, relationships, and activities that offer meaning, satisfaction, and joy. The ability to just be grounds happy children in who they are rather than what they own, and gives them control over what brings them happiness." - Just Mommies

"What Do Santa and Ads Have in Common? Kids Believe in Both." - Psychology Today (Jan 2014)

"Exploiting Children One Commercial at a Time" - Huffington Post (June 2013)

"Yet the idea later proclaimed by the Jesuits is very old – give us a child till he’s seven and we’ll have him for life. It works. Many years ago a young son of my ancestors was kidnapped during a Russian pogrom. His father and brother spent years searching - everywhere. They eventually found him – living as a teenage seminarian in Constantinople. He knew nothing of his family. He had no wish to know. He just wanted to become a Russian Orthodox priest. It’s not only religious organizations that know the power of early training and indoctrination. So do food companies." - Psychology Today (March 2013) 

"The line between entertainment and advertising is becoming increasingly blurred. For example, The Hub, a television network aimed at children that has a 50 percent ownership stake by the toy manufacturer Hasbro was launched in 2010. Commercials aside, this channel’s programming is basically a direct marketing platform for selling Hasbro toys." - Psychology Today (Sept 2012) 

"A generation of young people is growing up with the logos of fast-food companies "branded" on their brains. Scientists say scans of children show the pleasure and appetite centres of their brains light up when they are shown advertising images such as the McDonald's logo." - The Independent (Sept 2012) 

"Lower life satisfaction was found to lead to materialism among children who were frequently exposed to advertising." - Pediatrics (August 2012) 

"Infants to 3-year-olds: They're a new demographic marketers are hell-bent on reaching." - Ad Week (Sept 2011)

"Food and beverage corporations certainly know that advertising works. That's why these corporations spend more than a half billion dollars each year on advertisements for fast food and toy giveaways targeting teens and children. Despite the attention paid to the childhood epidemic of diet-related disease, they aren't slowing down their marketing." - Alternet (Jan 2011)

"How Modern Day Mad Men Are Making Our Kids Fat and Sick" - Psychology Today (Jan 2011)

"Today, preschoolers see 21% more fast food ads on TV than they saw in 2003, and somewhat older children see 34% more." - Yale (Nov 2010)

"Strong toy ad dollars on kids' TV networks are fueling a surprisingly higher-priced third- and fourth-quarter selling period. " - Media Post (Sept 2010)  via  Screentime Awareness

""Children as young as three are feeling social pressure and understand that consumption of certain brands can help them through life," said lead researcher Anna McAlister of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Findings like this show us that we need to think about materialism developing in very young children."" -  Live Science (March 2010)

"Buy, Buy Baby: How Consumer Culture Manipulates Parents and Harms Young Minds" - Amazon (August 2009)

"Children’s television networks show 76 percent more food commercials per hour than other networks – and most of them are for high-fat, high-sugar foods, according to a new study." - Food Navigator (Nov 2009)

"Nine out of ten food advertisements shown during Saturday morning children's television programming are for foods of poor nutritional quality, according to researchers at the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the University of Minnesota." - Science Daily (April 2008)

"Spanish-language television is bombarding children with so many fast-food commercials that it may be fueling the rising obesity epidemic among Latino youth, according to research led by pediatricians from the Johns Hopkins Children's Center." - Science Daily (Feb 2008)

"Companies are accused of routinely hiring child and consumer psychologists to "help them target children effectively", with devastating consequences for the health and wellbeing of youngsters." -

The Telegraph (Dec 2007)

"A report of the American Psychological Association (APA) released today found evidence that the proliferation of sexualized images of girls and young women in advertising, merchandising, and media is harmful to girls' self-image and healthy development." - Science Daily (Feb 2007)

"Research has shown that young children—younger than 8 years—are cognitively and psychologically defenseless against advertising.6–9 They do not understand the notion of intent to sell and frequently accept advertising claims at face value.10 In fact, in the late 1970s, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) held hearings, reviewed the existing research, and came to the conclusion that it was unfair and deceptive to advertise to children younger than 6 years.11" - Pediatrics (Dec 2006)

"A report published this month confirms that television is effective in getting children to eat the foods advertised, driving up the association between television viewing and childhood obesity." - Food Navigator (May 2006)

"Watch Not, Want Not? Packard/Stanford Study Links Kids' TV Time and Consumerism" - Stanford News (April 2006)

"Researchers Say Prime Time for Kids Has Heavy Advertising for High-Sugar Foods" - WebMD (August 2005)

"Childhood for Sale: Consumer Culture's Bid for Our Kids" - DLC (August 2005)

"Consuming Kids: Protecting Our Children from the Onslaught of Marketing & Advertising" - Amazon (August 2005)

"Identifying determinants of young children's brand awareness: Television, parents, and peers " - Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology   (April 2005)

"What most surprised me were the results I got from my study, which found that the more kids are exposed to consumer culture, they likelier they are to become depressed, suffer from anxiety, or experience low self-esteem. I would have thought it was the other way around — that consumer culture was the symptom, not the cause." - Bloomberg Business (Oct 2004)

"The Stepford Kids" - Business Week (Sept 2004)

"Children under the age of eight are unable to critically comprehend televised advertising messages and are prone to accept advertiser messages as truthful, accurate, and unbiased, according to research analyzed by an American Psychological Association task force." - UC Santa Barbara (March 2004)

"Research shows that children under the age of eight are unable to critically comprehend televised advertising messages and are prone to accept advertiser messages as truthful, accurate and unbiased." - APA (Feb 2004)

"Children are big business. And that means my daughter is a popular kid these days. Taco Bell wants her, and so do McDonald's and Burger King. Abercrombie & Fitch has a whole store devoted to her. Pert Plus has a shampoo she'll love. Ethan Allen is creating bedroom sets she can't live without. ALPO even wants to sell her dog food. Even while I, like all American parents, am held responsible for the safety and behavior of my preteen, corporations spend over $12 billion each year to bombard her incessantly with messages that undermine my efforts." - American Prospect (Nov 2001)

"This is significant when we consider that the most essential product of the advertising industry is hunger. That is, commercials are intended to create a feeling of lack in the viewer, a deep ache that can only be assuaged by purchasing the product. As Dr. Neil Postman, chairman of the Department of Communications Arts at New York University, points out, “What the advertiser needs to know is not what is right about the product but what is wrong about the buyer.” So we hand our children over to Madison Avenue to be told, hundreds of hours a year, how hungry, bored, ugly, and unpopular they are and will continue to be until they spend (or persuade their parents to spend) a few more dollars. And then we wonder why our children feel so hungry, bored, ugly, and unpopular, and why they are so needy." - Simple to Remember (August 2001)  quote from To Kindle a Soul (August 2001)

"Effects of Reducing Television Viewing on Children's Requests for Toys: A Randomized Controlled Trial" - Journal of Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics (June 2001)

"Ever since he first started practicing, Berkeley, Calif., psychologist Allen D. Kanner, PhD, has been asking his younger clients what they wanted to do when they grew up. The answer used to be "nurse," "astronaut" or some other occupation with intrinsic appeal. Today the answer is more likely to be "make money." For Kanner, one explanation for that shift can be found in advertising. "Advertising is a massive, multi-million dollar project that's having an enormous impact on child development," says Kanner, who is also an associate faculty member at a clinical psychology training program called the Wright Institute. "The sheer volume of advertising is growing rapidly and invading new areas of childhood, like our schools."" - APA (Sept 2000)

"Regrettably, a large gap has arisen between the humane mission of psychology and the drift of the profession into helping corporations influence children for the purpose of selling products to them. The use of psychological insight and methodology to bypass parents and influence the behavior and desires of children is a crisis for the profession of psychology." - Commercial Alert  and  Commercial Alert (Sept 1999)

"Children as Consumers: Advertising and Marketing" - Sandra Calvert (Spring 2008)

Consumerism -- The World's Fastest Growing Religion

The Religion of Consumerism

Advertising teaches us that enhancing the self should be your most important goal in life.

- "Because you're worth it !"

- "Because you deserve it !"

- "You should do something just for yourself"

- "You deserve to treat yourself"

Is it any wonder "that those born after 1970 are more self-centered, more disrespectful of authority and more depressed than ever before." 


The inner Doughboy

There Are 12 Kinds of TV Ads in the World

"Slipping Under the Radar: Advertising and the Mind" An excellent overview of the scientific research on the effects of Advertising. (pdf)

The presidential hopeful from Arkansas loves pop culture and Chuck Norris. Has Huckabee made irony the stalking horse for social conservatism?

"Authors Jonah Berger (University of Pennsylvania) and Lindsay Rand (Stanford University) found that linking a risky behavior with an "outgroup" (a group that the targeted audience doesn't want to be confused with) caused participants to reduce unhealthy behaviors."

Recommended Books

The Overspent American: Why We Want What We Don't Need (1999)

Boxed In: The Culture of TV (1988)

  Interview with Boxed In Author


Consuming Kids: Protecting Our Children from the Onslaught of Marketing & Advertising

Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture (2005)

  Article by Born to Buy Author

Can't Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel

Recommended Websites

Bowling Alone 

Campaign For A Commercial-Free Childhood

Ellen Currey Wilson – The Big Turnoff 

Herber Valley Unplugged

I’m Missing All Of My Shows 

Instead of TV 

Kill Your Television 

Media by Choice

Media Violence Resource Center

People Unplugged

Plato's Cave

Play Unplugged

Screen Free Project

Screen Free Week

Television vs Children 

The New Citizen

Trash Your TV

Turn Off That TV

TV Smarter - Blog 

TV Stinks 

Unplug Your Kids 

White Dot 

White Dot – Forum 

Recommended Articles

"Television Addiction Is No Mere Metaphor"

University of Otago research - TV and Academic Achievement

University of Otago research - TV and Crime

Unplug Your Brain - by Jerry Mander

Why Turnoff Completely

The Dangers of TV

TV Promoting Guns

Television and Children (University of Michigan)

Strangers in Our Homes: TV and Our Children's Minds

Excerpted from Endangered Minds - Kids' Brains Must Be Different

How Background TV Undermines Well-Being

Electronic Screen Syndrome and the rise of mental disorders in children

1000 studies over 30 years

selling audiences to advertisers

How TV Teaches Stupidity

8 Changes I Experienced After Giving Up TV

Top 5 reasons NOT to watch TV this Fall

Spudding Out

Why TV Undermines Academics & Values

Newsweek is Bad for Kids

Bowling Alone - The Strange Disappearance of Civic America

TV Legitimizing Torture

The Assault on Reason

Twilight of the Books

Evolution Of Despair

Alzheimer's & TV

Preventing Obesity

Trained to Kill

Mind-altering media

Effects of TV - Before & After

A Powerful, Massive Protest: Diminish the Corporate Media's Power by Turning off Your TV for Good!

5 Ways Parents May Be Sabotaging Their Kids’ Health

Food companies manipulate kids and parents to create lifelong loyal customers

Is an overlooked source of childhood obesity staring us in the face?

Eight Reasons Why TV is Evil

"What most surprised me were the results I got from my study, which found that the more kids are exposed to consumer culture, they likelier they are to become depressed, suffer from anxiety, or experience low self-esteem. I would have thought it was the other way around — that consumer culture was the symptom, not the cause."

TV Limiting Technology

List & Comparison of TV blockers

Token Timer

Power Cop

Play Limit

Power Plug Lock

Time Machine

Eye Timer

TV Be Gone

TV Be Gone - Article

Stanford Student Media Awareness to Reduce Television (SMART) curriculum is being used in California and Michigan. SMART in San Francisco, SMART in Canada