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Jewish World Review April 8, 2002 / 27 Nisan, 5762

Art Buchwald

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Consumer Reports

The Young Audience | Every time I pick up the papers, I read that a network is bragging about one of its shows attracting the 18- to 39-year-old audience.

And why shouldn't they brag? The 18 to 39s are the only ones in America who have any buying power.

The network producer of a reality show called "Death Rattle" told me "Death" was watched by 40 million people, all under the age of 39. The person who doesn't die from a heart attack after climbing Mount Everest wins a million dollars.

Ron Kendall, the producer, was merciless. "We are reaching the audience we want and we are making the sponsor very happy. The 18- to 39-year-old audience buys beer, Nike running shoes and BMWs. They are making the economy soar, unlike the tightwad 40- to 90-year-old losers who hang onto their money because they are afraid their pensions won't get them through their September years."

I said, "There is one thing I don't understand. The biggest advertisers on television are the drug companies who are selling pharmaceuticals for everything from arthritis to insomnia."

"At the moment these are not problems of the under 39 crowd. But they will be later. All the drug companies are trying to do at this time is educate the younger people as to what they have to look forward to later on. We want the kids to know when they turn 40, and for the rest of their lives, they will always have Viagra waiting for them."

I asked, "Suppose the over-40 population wants to buy something?"

"We can't stop them. At the same time, the advertiser is not sucking up to them."

"What does that mean?"

"Well, our surveys show that the mature audiences always go to the washroom when the commercial comes on and they always take a newspaper with them."

"Where do the 18 to 39s get their money?" I asked.

"From their parents. One of the reasons the over 40s are lacking in purchasing power is that they have to support their children."

"Even the 39-year-olds?"

"Especially the 39-year-olds."

"Do your shows only appeal to the youth market?"

"Of course. The networks are always trying to put no-brainers on the air. The less complicated the program is, the higher the rating."

"Is 'Death Rattle' so popular because you don't have to be a nuclear scientist to understand it?"

"You can say that again."

A strange thing happened while we were talking. Two moving men came into the office and started removing furniture. Kendall said, "What are you doing?"

One of the movers read from a slip of paper. "You're Ron Kendall and you were born in 1962. That makes you 40 and you have been fired."

"Give me a break. I still have all my marbles."

"We were told to make no exceptions."

"I didn't know about this."

"You should have thought of that before you decided to turn 40."

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03/31/02: Safe Deposit for Sale
03/26/02: Au Revoir to Soft Money
03/21/02: Andersen Defense Fund?
03/19/02: Celebrity kickers
03/15/02: A Mickey Mouse solution
03/13/02: Shadow government in the sandbox
03/07/02: The Way It Is
03/05/02: Not telling the truth
03/01/02: Book flogging
02/27/02: The players are mad

© 2002, TMS