Mary Pipher, in The Shelter of Each Other: Rebuilding Our Families, observes, “Children learn these things from the ads: that they are the most important person in the universe; that impulses should not be denied; that pain should not be tolerated; and that the cure for any pain is a product. They learn a mix of dissatisfaction and entitlement.”
From this, she concludes: “With the messages of ads, we are socializing our children to be self-centered, impulsive, and addicted. The television teaches values as clearly as any church.” And, she notes, children are exposed to 400 ads a day — more than four million in a lifetime. “Children are taught to be consumers and sold products — junk foods, overpriced clothes, and useless toys.”
It all adds up. Here we are, talking about parenting when we set out to discuss money.
As long as we’re in front of the TV set, let’s watch a sporting event. But instead of following the action, zero in on all of the corporate logos and brand names. Jot them down on a sheet of paper. We’re bombarded with a lot more “buy” messages than the ads themselves. We’ll encounter far more than four million product messages in a lifetime:
- How many product pitches do you count? What are they selling?
- Do you think sponsoring a race-car team really peddles more clothing detergent? Is the event itself sponsored by a company? What payoff do you think they’re getting?
- How many of these, such as stadium-rights naming or banners behind home plate, become “free” television advertising?
- How many build brand-name loyalty?
As you can see, we live in a product-saturated society. It’s not just TV and radio.
You don’t have to buy into any of those presumptions. Not if you’re taking control.
As you use your cash-flow notebook, ask yourself how many times a brand name is involved.
Could you be just as satisfied turning to a generic or store-brand alternative?
Just what is prompting you to spend on this item, anyway?