Jean Kilbourne lectures on advertising, media tactics

Social theorist and award-winning lecturer Jean Kilbourne presented her latest lecture, Deadly Persuasion, to a capacity crowd at Billings Lecture Hall on March 26.Kilbourne, popularly known for her award-winning lecture series Killing Us Softly, was brought to the University through a collaboration with the Women’s Center, the Center forHealth and Wellbeing and Student Life.The presentation, which ran about 45 minutes, centered on exposing the marketing strategies employed by the alcohol and tobacco industries in the media.Shelley Peitzmeier, a staff member in the Department of Student Life, said that she wanted to coordinate Kilbourne’s lecture with National Women’s History Month, taking place this month.  “We wanted to open the eyes to the ways in which women are used in advertising,” Peitzmeier said. “Jean is renowned for her ability to put a name on the exploitation.”Kilbourne began her presentation by stating one of her main platforms throughout her lectures.”You cannot grow up in America and not be influenced by advertising — its influence is quick, it is cumulative and for the most part it is subliminal,” Kilbourne said.Kilbourne’s presentation turned to the effects and influences of the alcohol and tobacco industry’s advertisements on college campuses.”At most college parties, including UVM, 10 percent of the people are doing 60 percent of the drinking, while 30 percent consume nearly 90 percent of the alcohol.”  Following the lecture, Kilbourne opened a question and answer session with the audience on a range of issues.One question from a student audience member asked for her opinion on the Amethyst Initiative, a group that advocates  for a national debate on lowering the drinking age.Kilbourne responded that she felt the movement’s members were “misguided” and that keeping the current legal drinking age at 21 was critical in preventing even more of an increase in youth drinking issues.The session ended with a well-attended book signing in the Billings North Lounge. “Jean did a fantastic job of illuminating some of society’s most ingrained problems,” sophomore Amanda Harzula, a women and gender studies major, said.