Listening to teenagers

They are trying to be adults but they are kids. They are talking about ignoring fashion – they are anti-fashion, yet they speak of loving Europe in the summer because you can simply don your Lululemons and head out into the street. We stare at them and listen. They are like a different species – so naively cynical, so ready to proclaim allegiances and alliances, cultural or otherwise. Skipping a class in grade 9 is apparently the most exciting thing that has ever happened to them. I want to chastise them for this, but I know it is true; I was there once, and it simply is the most exciting thing you have done in your life at that point. Is it sad? Not really. You are pretending to be an adult, spending time in Starbucks socializing like the adults that have it so easy in life. We’ve arrived, they think.

I am here because I am ostensibly doing research on the market for green packaging, but I am distracted by their presence. I am reminded of The Merchants of Cool, a documentary by PBS showing how marketers utilize teenagers willingness to ‘show and tell’ to figure out emerging trends in retail and entertainment. According to these teenager, I am cool (or perhaps lame?) because I also like Gossip Girl. They are loud and brash and I am losing the battle for concentration.

But while I’m out here on a trembling twig of this limb called concentration, let’s examine background consciousness. It is what is allowing me to focus on writing this while being aware that the teenagers have moved on to Harry Potter, and now, lurchingly, the politics of Paris Hilton (the verdict: attention = money). Because marketing is about first listening and then communicating, we briefly studied the art of subliminal advertising. The word itself is, in my opinion, quite beautiful – sub, meaning under or beneath, and limin, meaning threshold. Therefore, as the words refers to consciousness, it means anything below your conscious threshold.

Here is Derren Brown giving a demonstration of the power of subliminal messages. While he is known primarily as an illusionist, most of what is going on here is uprfont.


Here he uses Neuro-linguistic programming to convince someone they love a gift. And I think the target is the guy from Shaun of the Dead, but I could be wrong.