Marketing to Blame for Riots

If you remember last year there were quite a bit of unrest in the England which centered around the young adult population. These young people were at the center of riots and protests through the summer. I remember following it some and the general consensus was that the poor economy and job market led to frustrated young people who couldn’t not apply themselves into the world they had worked and prepared for. However, that seems to not be the only cause according to a new report out.

An inquiry ordered by the prime minister into last summer’s riots will demand action against aggressive advertising aimed at young people, citing evidence that rampant materialism was an underlying cause of last year’s lawlessness.

The Riots, Communities and Victims Panel, set up by David Cameronand deputy prime minister Nick Clegg in the wake of the riots, will highlight the role of big business in creating a damaging consumerist culture in some of the most deprived parts of the country.

The violence last August was characterised by the looting of stores including Foot Locker, JJD Sports, Orange, O2 and Adidas. When it publishes its final report, the panel is expected to offer recommendations to limit the impact of advertising on the young and vulnerable.

That problem is one of four underlying causes the panel will highlight, along with lack of economic opportunities, a breakdown in community ties and a loss of trust in the police and public sector.

So they are acknowledging the economy issues and a loss of community (which is probably most accurate), but then they jump into the marketing.

The riots panel visited six deprived areas – four where rioters lived and two others not involved in the disturbances – to isolate the cause of the widespread robbery and violence in which 15,000 actively took part and five people died last August. A survey by the panel, appointed on a cross-party basis, found:

• Two thirds (67%) of people in the deprived areas believe that materialism among young people is a problem;

• 77% felt there was too much branding and advertising aimed at young people;

• 85% felt that advertising put pressure on young people to possess the latest products;

• 70% felt steps need to be taken to reduce the amount of advertising aimed at young people.

Has our consumption now taken over out identities so much so that and our need for possession of material goods so much that we now can lay blame to tragic events and unfortunate behaviors on a big business marketing campaign?

Maybe this has been happening all along, we just have not examined it in such a confine and isolated set of events and groups?

More PHOTOS From the Big Picture at Boston.com

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