The Emperor Has No Clothes, But We Have Our 'Skins'

It was my intention today to provide a rationale for the "convergence"  (there's that word again) of the key elements of direct-to-consumer marketing with today's fully functional, data-driven digital platforms.  That was my intention.

For years we've seen the larger marketing community become aware of, and then enamored with,  the notions of precision targeting, relevant messaging, offers (Groupon anyone?),  measurement, and ROI accountability.  Or, as we used to call it, direct marketing. 

So it was my intention today to describe those elements, what we refer to as the variables of response, in some detail, and relate them to the level of instantaneous executional capability and wider applicability that we see in today's marketing platforms and marketing mix. 

But I'm not going to do that.

Instead, consistent with my belief that we toil happily in the MediaTech business, where devices are key, but content is king,  I happened to run into some content that gives even a fully clothed emperor  a bad name.

"Skins" is a show, you'll pardon the expression,  that one local newspaper says, provides "racy storylines" and "exposes the truth about teens." The Truth. 

Hold that thought. 

With origins in the U.K., now here on MTV, the show portrays heavy drinking, lots of (underage) sex, and drug use among teens, with the clear inference that this is the norm  ("the truth").   It has recently come under scrutiny since child pornography laws may have been broken, according to at least one Parents group, the Parents Television Council.  And that in turn got the attention of several major advertisers who have pulled their advertising from the show. 

By the way, my favorite headline in this train  wreck of a story is "MTV may be in hot water for alleged child pornography." Hot water.   My sense is that the big picture may be missing in some of these reportorial observations.

But let's be fair.  The show's creators have responded to the criticism with a strong statement that "'Skins' will continue to connect with the audience it was created for."   I'm wondering just who is that audience?  For whom exactly do you create a show portraying and glamorizing an illegal and amoral lifestyle among the underage set?  

Personally I've seen the show, I've been to the website where one can delve deeper into the "story lines" (once again, you'll pardon the expression).  And I find them both banal, poorly written,  real least-common-denominator stuff.  On that basis I can dismiss it.

But with all the talk about the technology of today's TV, are we losing the central point: that it continues to have the power to persuade, to provide acceptance?

Where is the responsibility to our kids, and to ourselves, to be better than this?  

Over the years, as media has become fragmented, so has it too often become sensationalized -- and therefore marginalized -- as content.  Desperate to attract an audience, TV has been dumbed down under the guise of "this is reality" or some other made-up, look-at-me attempt at ratings.  One can say that it's wrong, but it's also sad.  With "Skins," we see a part of this community of creative talent reduced to talking down to our youth in order to be noticed. 

TV can be uplifting, inspiring, informative, entertaining.  When we see it at its best, why do we tolerate the worst of it, especially when its persuasive power is aimed at our kids?   

Tags: television, tv
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10 comments about "The Emperor Has No Clothes, But We Have Our 'Skins'".
  1. Harry Hutt from Hutt Sports Marketing , January 25, 2011 at 2:47 p.m.

    Amen Bob, amen, AMEN !!!!!!

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited , January 25, 2011 at 3:22 p.m.

    If this is considered "The Truth", what other lies or misconceptions can and will be believed as "Truths" ? Weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? Smoking is good for your health? You get the picture. Media messages influence.

  3. Jim O'neal from Independant Media Consultant , January 25, 2011 at 3:26 p.m.

    Once again, leave it to the cokeheads in Hollywood who write this stuff and then kick it up to "high moral grounds" at the top
    of Viacom (have you seen a picture of the CEO??) for easy approval of garbage...sad, pathetic state of some levels of media. And the only way this will be yanked is by disappearing
    ad dollars...not from a moral outcry. It's bad enough that
    the kids watch Jersey Shore for their role models...guess somebody had to take it down a few more notches...

  4. Kc Compton from Ogden Publications , January 25, 2011 at 3:59 p.m.

    As soon as a boycott of advertisers' products is organized, the producers will fall out of like with it, don't you think? What amazes me is how much sheer skankiness we tolerate in the name of entertainment without letting the ADVERTISERS know we hate this crap.

  5. Charles Rosin from Live Dibs , January 25, 2011 at 4:30 p.m.

    Despite the phenomenal success of two of MTV's reality shows -- "Jersey Shore" (which lowered the bar to new depths) and "Teenage Mom" (which is said to have a caused an increase of teen pregnancy in a couple of southern 'red states' from girls who want to be reality starts) MTV is a network that realizes it is no longer at the center of youth culture in a world dominated by facebook and bbm's. So to get attention they push the envelope farther and farther and farther to win back their audience hoping that advertisers will be impressed with its overall increase in viewership....and if the numbers are up, advertisers will comes and support whatever programs they are developing, no matter how low the "standards and practices" go. A very cynical play by very cynical executives who work for the most cynical broadcaster of them all, Viacom.

  6. Kate Lafrance from Hartford Woman Online Magazine , January 25, 2011 at 4:47 p.m.

    Saw the British show a few times on BBC America - very "soapy" - a lot like "Gossip Girl" without the money.

  7. Jay Levin , January 25, 2011 at 5:36 p.m.

    Great approach, style, tone and conclusion. Peppered, cooked up and served just right. Deliciously done.

  8. Miles Shapiro from Partique , January 25, 2011 at 6:14 p.m.

    I hate to be the lone voice of disagreement, but, holy smokes, Batman, when did we lose sight of the larger context here? TV is sensationalized horse hockey (another tv reference, btw-- M*A*S*H): this is a news flash? Of course it is crap. It's supposed to be crap. It is cheap to make. NJ Shore is cheap to make, and if your kids are selecting those characters as role models, IT IS YOUR FAULT! Seriously, you've screwed up completely. Don't blame MTV, reality tv or anything else. Throw your tv out of the house. Tell your kids to get a life, read a book, do their homework or have some other reasonable parent-esque thing come out of your mouth; but most importantly, stop whining about tv parenting your children improperly. Try doing it yourself.

  9. Kate Lafrance from Hartford Woman Online Magazine , January 25, 2011 at 6:33 p.m.

    Go @Miles! Well said.

  10. Cece Forrester from tbd , January 28, 2011 at 11:12 a.m.

    Miles, some TV is horrible and other TV is worthwhile. One just has to have a system for being selective about what to watch--there are all sorts of on-demand and time-shifting options these days so you aren't stuck with whatever's "on" at the moment. You also have to do a little research to find out what's available that's good but not so well publicized. Spout off in front of the kids about why you're being choosy in your own viewing--that you won't waste your time on shows that are offensive and low-class no matter how many other idiots get sucked in. This attitude could appeal to their rebellious instincts and they may start to imitate your behavior, not only in their TV viewing but in other areas of life.