Frontline-Merchants of Cool (2005)
Editor's NoteEver since the 1950s, when the United States' postwar rise in prosperity and leisure first gave birth to teen culture, American teenagers have remained the nation's foremost arbiters of cool. From fashion to music and all stops in between, teens have served as both voracious determiners and avid consumers of pop-culture trends--with the requisite disposable income to match. And it is precisely for its billion-dollar spending habits that the teen demographic has become the perennial target of corporations eager to sell their wares and the Madison Avenue media mavens hired to do just that with their relentless onslaught of market research, surveys, and focus groups. Hosted by correspondent Douglas Rushkoff, this episode of PBS's FRONTLINE series explores the lucrative business of selling and marketing teen culture through successful case studies like MTV's TOTAL REQUEST LIVE and interviews with marketers, media executives, culture critics, and teens themselves.