Merchants of Cool

They spend their days sifting through reams of market research data. They conduct endless surveys and focus groups. They comb the streets, the schools, and the malls, hot on the trail of the “next big thing” that will snare the attention of their prey–a market segment worth an estimated $150 billion a year. They are the merchants of cool: creators and sellers of popular culture who have made teenagers the hottest consumer demographic in America. But are they simply reflecting teen desires or have they begun to manufacture those desires in a bid to secure this lucrative market? And have they gone too far in their attempts to reach the hearts–and wallets–of America’s youth?

FRONTLINE correspondent Douglas Rushkoff examines the tactics, techniques, and cultural ramifications of these marketing moguls in “The Merchants of Cool.” Produced by Barak Goodman and Rachel Dretzin, the program talks with top marketers, media executives and cultural/media critics, and explores the symbiotic relationship between the media and today’s teens, as each looks to the other for their identity.

Teenagers are the hottest consumer demographic in America. At 33 million strong, they comprise the largest generation of teens America has ever seen–larger, even, than the much-ballyhooed Baby Boom generation. Last year, America’s teens spent $100 billion, while influencing their parents’ spending to the tune of another $50 billion.

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  1. sometimes skinny jeans are not comfortable to wear, i would always prefer to use loos jeans ;,;

  2. my girlfriend is very skinny that is why she likes skinny jeans and tight fitting trousers *

  3. To paraphrase Bill Hicks: these people are sucking Satan’s cock. The World would be a better place if they killed themselves.

  4. MTV actually used to be about the music. I was 12 and watching the Red Hot Chili Peppers preform at MTVMA. That was awesome! Just like the first three “Real Worlds”. Back then it was REALLY REAL. When Bush stole the election everything went to shit and now a new generation of tards has emerge.

    Note: Skinny jeans make you look fat and uncomfortable. Also, when you have hair in your eyes it’s harder to see.

    The latest fashion trends are stupid looking. A random, useless belt over an ugly plaid shirt? That’s all you’ve got. With the power you have over people’s lives you should be ashamed you failed them so powerfully.

    Adolescence has become corporatized. For Shame.