Over the past decade, advertising to children has climbed to new heights--or, rather, descended to new depths. According to the Center for a New American Dream, American companies spend about $2 billion each year advertising to kids--more than 20 times what they spent 10 years ago. James U. McNeal, a professor of marketing at Texas A&M University, says that advertisers treat children as three markets simultaneously: as a primary market, as influencers of their families' economic decisions, and as the "market of the future." The result is an all-out blitz on children's minds.
Web-savvy readers know that one can buy almost anything on the web these days, but one recent auction on the Internet site eBay marked a new low. The item in question was a set of "controversial" domain names, most of them related to the Ku Klux Klan. For a minimum bid of $500,000, would-be buyers could purchase a package of 104 names, ranging from longlivethekkk.com and GrandWizardkkk.org to trykukluxklan.net. The auction description even had separate appeals to "hate supporting" and "peace supporting individuals"; buyers could purchase the sites either to air their own opinions or to keep them out of the hands of hate groups.
Louis Dubose ["El Gobernador" TAP Vol. 11 Issue 1] is the editor of The Texas Observer and the co-author (with Molly Ivins) of a forthcoming book on George W. Bush. He recently spoke with Edward Cohn, a staff writer at The American Prospect, about his article on Bush and the Hispanic vote and on Texas politics in general.
EC: Your article describes George W. Bush's campaign to win the Hispanic vote in Texas. Are these efforts a good guide to the future- both in terms of how he'll campaign and in terms of how successful he'll be?