Thursday, September 24, 2009

PBS Frontline - The Persuaders

Frontline examines the "persuasion industries" -- advertising and public relations. To cut through consumers' growing resistance to their pitches, marketers have developed new ways of integrating their messages into the fabric of our lives, using sophisticated market research techniques to better understand consumers and turning to the little-understood techniques of public relations to make sure their messages come from sources we trust.

In "The Persuaders," a 90-minute documentary, media and culture critic Douglas Rushkoff examines how changes in marketing practices are influencing U.S. culture and politics. The first part of the film looks at how advertisers are trying to break through the clutter that they have created, looking for new ways to reach potential consumers. It also looks at how the terrain has shifted -- from a time when there were real differences between products, and the job of advertising was to highlight what the product did, to the current situation where often the only real difference between items is their image, and the emphasis of advertising is on what the product means. This new marketing trend, in which marketers invite consumers to buy into an identity rather than simply purchase a product, is aptly illustrated by an in-depth look at the creation of an identity for Delta's new low-cost air carrier, Song. The second part of "The Persuaders" looks at how these new marketing techniques are being applied to politics. A profile of Republican political strategist, Frank Luntz, asks whether changing language according to focus group preferences clarifies or clouds the issues.


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