When I look back at my childhood (is it really over!?), I have nothing but happy thoughts (minus the birth of my siblings). The first time I learned how to ride a bike, getting an easy bake oven for Christmas and spending hours and hours playing house in a HUGE cardboard box with a little door and windows my dad cut out for me. (Sigh) That was the good life. Now I look around at the little rug rats of America, and their childhoods consist of MP3 players, Miley Cyrus and MacBook Pros. Eek! Now I know how my father feels when he talks about his childhood memories. I call his flashbacks, “Ted Wolfsthal, This is Your Life.” And trust me his sitcom, has A LOT of episodes. In any event, he’s always told me about how great he had it. Being one of the first families in their Mount Vernon, NY neighborhood to get a colored TV, my dad, aunt and grandparents would come around the TV and watch shows like Bewitched, Three Stooges and the Johnny Carson show every night. Advertisements back then (when dinosaurs roamed the Earth) were very gender-oriented. For example, G.I. Joe commercials in which these little figurines stood in battle positions and little boys yelled and made explosion-like noises. Marketers were almost telling their audiences what they should want and how they could get it.
According to Turrow, this is considered the “construction of the consumer.” During my dad’s childhood there were not that many channels, so it was easy to keep viewers’ attention. Messages and ads were created to target the masses. The consumer was the puppet, and the marketer was the puppeteer. Now, maybe this made more sense in America’s technological history, where cable did not exist, but I do not believe it applies to modern times. I believe it is now the consumer standing at the control board. Turrow should make it: “the construction of the marketer.” Advertisers are now forced to dig deeper (or stalk!) to learn and keep the attention of their ever-changing niche audiences. They know much more than the what, where, when, why and how of their target: YOU! They have it down to a science and keep finding ways to learn (cough, stalk, cough) more about us. This is called behavioral marketing. They are even attaching devices to your eyeballs to see what areas of a website your eyes see first (creeps!). What on Earth will they think of next?!
Basically, my main point is: Yes, it is a cat and mouse game between marketers and their consumers—HOWEVER we have evolved into the mighty mice of all mice. It is the old cats that have to keep up with us!
(shout out: hi dad!)