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  Bookends: Dan Davidson
 

Made You Look: How Advertising Works and Why You Should Know

Reviewed: February 13, 2004
By: Shari Graydon / illustrations by Warren Clark
Publisher: Annick Press
113 pages, $16.95

Advertising! Who needs it? The answer seems to be that we all do in one way or another. It may appear as simply as a printed flyer advertising a yard sale or as complex as a music video, but both are advertising in one form or another.

When you stop to think about it, it soon becomes clear that we swim in a sea of advertising: people selling goods and services, people selling themselves. governments selling their policies. Sometimes, as this weekís report by the Auditor General has revealed, this advertising mania and the desire for promotion can go off the rails in very serious, expensive ways.

But perhaps itís more to the point to realize that being surrounded by something often causes us to take it for granted, and perhaps to ignore the messages that are bombarding us. Ignore them consciously, at least.

The point of this clever little book is, as the title suggests, to make you look. While itís particularly concerned with making kids and teens look, a lot of what it says is relevant to anyone, and parents of kids and teens really might want to pay attention to it too.

The purpose of most media (include magazines, radio, television and, increasingly, the movies) is to deliver an audience to the advertising which pays for the production. The purpose of the ads is to get the audience to buy something. The audience will be told that the product is new and improved, that it will improve their (pick one or more: self-confidence, looks, social acceptance, sex life), or make their lives simpler (or more complex), happier, and more fulfilled. The product will increase their productivity, or cut down on the time it takes to do boring chores, or actually make those chores fun.

Made You Look covers all of these areas in an entertaining fashion, suggesting all sorts of ways that you might attempt to measure the onslaught around you and perhaps gain a bit of immunity. The prose is crisp, the chapters are well organized and the illustrations are clever and amusing.

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