This book is about the way the advertising industry has been fragmenting America and what that may mean for the media and society. The advertiser's aim has been to package individuals, or groups of people, in ways that make them useful targets. But the ad industry's vision of America is one of a fractured population of self-indulgent, suspicious ...
This book is about the way the advertising industry has been fragmenting America and what that may mean for the media and society. The advertiser's aim has been to package individuals, or groups of people, in ways that make them useful targets. But the ad industry's vision of America is one of a fractured population of self-indulgent, suspicious individuals who reach out only to people like themselves, and the ads it creates both reflect and promote this view. Combining shrewd analysis of contemporary practices with a historical perspective, Turow traces the momentous shift that began in the mid-'70s, when advertisers rejected mass marketing in favor of ever more aggressive target marketing. It is a strategy that includes all marketing vehicles, from cable TV to catalogs, direct mail to radio, newspapers to supermarket promotions. Turow shows how advertisers exploit differences between consumers based on income, age, gender, race, marital status, ethnicity, and lifestyles. With increased technology, advertising can easily enter individuals' private spaces -- their homes, cars, and offices -- with news, entertainment, and commercial messages aimed specifically at them. As the major support system of American media, the ad industry has encouraged market segmentation and the creation of customized media. Ultimately, Turow predicts this trend will cause an erosion of tolerance and cooperation within U.S. society.
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Publishers Weekly, 1997-02-10 Target marketing-the practice of pitching a narrow sales appeal to a specific demographic audience-is like a gated community: both are designed to appeal to an affluent few and to snub everyone else. In Breaking Up America, author Turow painstakingly details how target marketing exploits growing social divisions to maximize profits, and how, in doing so, it exacerbates these divisions. Utilizing data culled from books, interviews and trade journals, Turow spins a sobering tale of media manipulation. The rise of cable channels and niche magazines led to increased competition for audiences and, subsequently, to narrower "formats" designed to appeal to specific demographic profiles, primarily society's upper 20%, and to repel the remaining 80%. The result is a marketing strategy which consciously promotes and reinforces cultural divisiveness. Integral to these marketeers' strategy are stereotypes of race, gender, income and age. Turow is justifiably concerned; however, he does not adequately explain how, if advertisers deliberately rebuff the vast majority of consumers, this fractionalization pervades society as a whole. The intelligence and free will of the consumer are underplayed also, as if no one can see beyond the media's blatant button-pushing techniques. Breaking Up America is a well-researched, if depressing, look at the important phenomenon of target marketing and its impact on society. (Apr.)
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