Monday, June 9, 2014

Marketing in the Face of Adversity

Amanda Kooser is responsible for the Crave blog on CNET. That means that she writes about the many different manifestations of stuff that feed our national passion for consumerism. This morning, however, she filed an article in the Tech Culture department. I am not sure that it is really about our culture of technology, but it is definitely a sign of the time.

The article is about a product being marketed by ProTecht, a safety products company based in Oklahoma that seems to have cleverly worked technology into their name, whether or not it actually belongs there. The product is question is called the Bodyguard Blanket. Basically, it is made of the same bulletproof material found in body armor for both law enforcement and the military. However, it is a large rectangle (like a blanket) that can be unfolded to cover a child. The motivation is that these will protect children in the event of a school shooting.

As you might guess, these are not cheap. A single blanket costs $1000. Given what school budgets are like, it would not surprise me if ProTecht has decided to target (double meaning definitely intended) iys marketing strategy at parents, rather than at the schools. This will then create a whole new layer of discrimination between kids that have the protection and kids that don't.

It goes without saying that I believe that kids should go to school without fear of being shot. Nevertheless, it is hard to resist feeling that this particular effort to deal with the problem through product development and (more significantly) marketing is more than a little sociopathic. The more important issue is that ours is a culture that does not want to admit that school shootings have become an endemic problem that needs to be solved through hard thinking and committed actions, rather than technological bandages.

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