A COOL PRIMER

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The idea that you can roll cool off an assembly line prepackaged like Twinkies is, well, uncool.

"I wouldn't say that cool is `wholly manufactured,' " said Sheldon Rampton, editor of the PR Watch journal and Web site and the co-author of "Trust Us, We're Experts," "but the media-spindustrial complex is constantly on the prowl to discover the latest fad and turn it into a marketing hook. I know a kid who uses the words Mountain Dew as a verb to describe this activity, e.g., `Skateboarding was cool until they Mountain Dewed it."'

That raspberry you hear is Look-Look Co-Founder Sharon Lee scoffing at the concept of the corporate creation of cool. "A lot of corporations ... take the attitude that you throw commercials together with what they think passes for ... cool and that'll be enough to draw in the kids. It's not."As an example, she cited Pepsi-Cola Co.'s "Generation Next" ads. "One portrayed a bunch of `cool' snowboarders ... who acted really goofy and used completely moronic slang. ... The reality is, snowboarders consider themselves serious alternative athletes, not clowns."

Ad*itive's chief marketing officer Que Gaskins said marketers "typically throw everything they think is cool into a big pot without any cultural context." He said that "from the perspective of the dominant culture [Philadelphia 76er basketball player] Allan Iverson might seem like a thug, but to African-American males he`s hard-working with a strong sense of style."

To cornerstone promotion co-president Jon Cohen, music's the universal beat behind cool. "If you're drinking Sprite," he said ,"you're probably listening to Jay-Z and wearing Nikes." All are Cornerstone clients.

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