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tv   Frontline  PBS  May 20, 2015 10:00pm-11:01pm PDT

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>> narrator: tonight on frontline... >> it's all about likes. >> you want to be liked. >> (all): i like... >> narrator: the power of like. >> companies know how to turn "like" into money. >> narrator: the kids who are liked. >> i put it on my instagram and i was so happy i started getting views, which i didn't think was going to happen. >> this is my first bite into the cool ranch dorito taco. >> narrator: and the advertising machine spinning likes into gold. >> your consumer is your marketer. >> this is the biggest transformation that we've had in our lifetime. >> if you don't have a zillion hits, then you generally wouldn't get noticed by a sponsor. >> narrator: author douglas rushkoff examines the culture of
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like. >> a million people took an action to say, "yes, i like that piece of content. that piece of content speaks to me." that's profound. >> narrator: the fame... >> they need to stop worrying about their followers and start worrying about their money. >> narrator: the fortune... >> they can reach their friends, their peer networks, and be your own evangelists. they can sell your product for you. >> narrator: ...and what it all means for the way we interact with each other and all the people and things we like. tonight on frontline, "generation like." >> frontline is made possible by contributions to your pbs station from: and by the corporation for public broadcasting. major support for frontline is provided by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. more information is available
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at additional funding is provided by the park foundation. dedicated to heightening public awareness of critical issues. the wyncote foundation. and by the frontline journalism fund, with major support from john and jo ann hagler and a grant from scott nathan and laura debonis.
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>> the pta put together this event tonight because as parents, we're all going through the digital revolution with our kids. we have douglas rushkoff... >> douglas rushkoff: i've been speaking at events like this for more than 20 years now. >> my sister has two twitter accounts... >> rushkoff: i've written books and taught classes about this stuff, so people turn to me for answers. >> what do you do in the case of extreme bullying? >> my son plays a game called starcraft. >> how much does that show up in tracking? >> rushkoff: i don't think it's going to affect the kid's job for the rest of their lives... >> rushkoff: but lately i've been wondering: are we all asking the wrong questions when we focus on the technology itself rather than what's behind it? kids are spending more and more of their time in digital spaces that they don't have even a basic understanding of what they are, where they're tilted, what are they for. the problem, as i see it is what are companies doing to our kids through technology
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and how can they and we be made more aware? technology is here to stay, and it's changing all of our lives especially those of our kids. but how? what do these websites and apps really allow teens to do? what is it they ask in return? and are kids aware of any of this? it hasn't always been like this? when we made the frontline documentary "merchants of cool" back in 2001, the media environment was quite different. >> what's up, we're limp bizkit and you're watching trl if you didn't notice already. >> rushkoff: mtv was the mighty behemoth growing rich exploiting kids' desire to be cool. >> can i take your picture for a street culture website i work for? >> rushkoff: corporations were chasing kids down, taking teen culture and selling it back to them. >> there was this guy the other day who got, like... >> 90 favorites. >> rushkoff: today's teens
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like this group of high school friends in montclair new jersey, don't need to be chased down. they're putting themselves out there online for anyone to see. they tell the world what they think is cool, starting with their own online profiles. >> are you doing a profile picture or a cover photo? >> i don't know. >> well, you can't have a cover photo by yourself. >> listen to genna she's the master of facebook. come on, we're trying to get you 400 likes! >> "how to get 400 likes on your profile picture." a profile picture is kind of like how you want people to visualize you. you put your best foot forward. and your cover photo kind of tells about your personality. >> okay, guys, do you think darius should do this picture? >> that picture? as his profile picture? >> i vote no. >> rushkoff: what is it you would want the profile to accomplish? >> you want it to show the true darius, and usually when you think of darius, he's always smiling, always a happy guy to be around. >> oh, that's so cute! >> so it's this one? >> yeah, it's really cute.
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>> we found a photo of when he's smiling and being his true self. >> rushkoff: is it "true you" now? >> my profile is definitely the true me now. definitely true me. >> rushkoff: compared with the kids i met 13 years ago, this group seemed so sophisticated. >> what's your caption going to be? >> nothing... >> you need a caption! >> rushkoff: but as they sat there doing a virtual makeover on their friend's profile, they revealed a vulnerability. >> how did you get almost 400 likes on your profile picture? >> exactly! >> rushkoff: likes. you were kind of surprised at her high number of likes? >> yeah. >> rushkoff: why is that? like, 300 to 400 is a lot? >> for example, we just posted a picture of me, my new profile picture, and i got like 14 likes. >> boys get less than girls, though. >> rushkoff: it's only been 20 minutes, though. >> yeah, but she had 300. >> rushkoff: likes. follows. friends. retweets. they're the social currency of this generation: generation like.
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the more likes you have, the better you feel. >> you can't wait to find out if other people like you or not, so you need likes and stuff like that. instant gratification. >> rushkoff: you get them, you give them, and everyone knows how many you've earned. the number is right there for anyone to see. the likes you get, are they about you or are they about your profile picture? >> that's what you sit in front of your computer for an hour trying to figure out. >> it's very cryptic. >> rushkoff: and when a kid likes something online a product or a brand or a celebrity, it becomes part of the identity that they broadcast to the world, the way a t-shirt or a bedroom poster defined me when i was a teen. for kids today, you are what you like. >> i like urban outfitters. >> under armor. >> fanta. >> joke pages. >> nike. >> mcdonald's. >> twizzlers. >> peta. >> sony. >> drake. >> too many to name, really. >> 25, 24, 23... >> rushkoff: ceili lynch of mount vernon, new york, likes the hunger games. a lot.
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>> this is like my number one kind of thing. i obviously like other books and other fandoms and stuff but not as much as the hunger games. like, that's my top one. >> rushkoff: her tumblr blog and twitter feed are filled with pictures and links to the billion-dollar franchise. >> i've been a fan of the books ever since i was younger like when they first came out. i found out about this website and i saw they were having these little contests on it, so i was, like, "oh, i really want to win these contests.' >> rushkoff: the hunger games is about teens forced by adults to battle each other as a form of public entertainment. >> we're gonna kill you! >> rushkoff: being a fan isn't so different. the movie's official website allows kids to compete with each other for virtual prizes by sharing its content on twitter. it's called retweeting, and when it comes to the hunger games, ceili's among the most prolific in the world. >> it's like an accomplishment. like, it's just really cool to be able to think of yourself as one of the people that likes the hunger games the most.
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being one of those people who loves it so much, it's like you're one of the top fans. >> rushkoff: so there's a way to almost verify your centrality. >> it's like a way to show people, "yes, i am one of the top fans, actually. look at the website!" >> rushkoff: more than any generation before them, today's teens can speak directly to the artists, celebrities and brands they like. and sometimes, they get a reply. >> a couple of the other actors and actresses from the first movie have noticed me. jack quaid, who played marvel from district 1, he was like my favorite actor, i don't know why but i became super obsessed with him, so i was tweeting him like, "my only goal anymore is to get you to tweet me back." and he tweeted me, like, "oh, go check it off your list. now go save the world, and hurry!" so that was really, really cool for me. >> rushkoff: does that motivate you to share things in the hopes of them kind of noticing? >> yeah, i mean i've tweeted them a bunch of times hoping they'll retweet me and stuff because it's really cool, like them noticing you. >> rushkoff: it's cool because when a kid likes something and that thing likes her back, other kids notice, and then they
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like her too. >> the hunger games official twitter, they retweeted me and i gained, like, 60, 70 followers. it's kind of self-empowering to know that, like "oh, i'm one of the top fans on their website." >> rushkoff: empowerment. it's a word you hear a lot when kids talk about social media. >> i think that social media... >> ..really has empowered me. >> it's a way of letting people know you're there. >> definitely gives me a voice. >> show my talent to the world. >> broaden who you're talking to. >> they'll just post whatever they're feeling. >> there's no one there that's saying, "you can't say that." >> rushkoff: once teens have created online identities, they have an array of tools through which to express themselves to anyone interested enough to listen. >> hey, everyone, it's tyler. i'm a vlogger on youtube. i got in trouble because i don't have a filter on my mouth. >> i talk about my life online. that's what i do. >> i went to an ugly sweater party... >> but i've been doing it since 2007.
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i had just gotten my first laptop, and i discovered youtube. >> i just wanted to do a really quick update while i'm at home doing my laundry. >> i had just gone off to college, i was 18, and my three best friends went to three different schools, and so i had facebook to keep in touch, but i also wanted to keep in touch in my own little way. >> i noticed one thing about my new haircut: it does this optical illusion called humongous forehead syndrome. >> and i remember one video had 100 views, and i was like, "i do not have 100 friends." >> i want to say i'm so thankful for all the new subscribers, i mean, the numbers go up and up and up. >> i have made probably over 500 videos just talking about everything. >> how cute. >> rushkoff: well, not everything... just the things he likes. >> this one's got the untold story of one direction. girl, we are in for a treat! >> rushkoff: like ceili and her hunger games tyler oakley is obsessed with pop culture. he's ceili on steroids. >> i absolutely adore these two bowties! >> rushkoff: and social media
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lets him share his obsessions with the world. >> oh, hey! welcome to my room! >> if you were to, like, go hog wild about somebody or put one direction posters all over their wall... >> i have no excuse for this. >> ...people might look at you weird. but on the internet, people are all about it. >> rushkoff: and guess what. getting people to be "all about" something is big business. >> ♪ put a pepsi in the motion that choice is up to you you're the pepsi generation... ♪ >> rushkoff: major corporations have long spent billions trying to get kids to engage with their products and brands. >> introducing oreo bigstuf. >> rushkoff: now that the way kids consume media has changed the companies that want to reach them know they need to change too. >> the icons of this generation are the like button, the tweet button, the reblog button. i mean, this is the biggest transformation that we've had in terms of communicating with consumers in our lifetime. in our lifetime. and so to not learn how to participate in those channels
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is outrageous. so to stand on the sideline is not an option. >> rushkoff: as a corporate marketing executive, bonin bough understands that when kids like something, it becomes part of who they are. and if kids want to express themselves by advertising his company's products, like oreo cookies, he's happy to oblige. >> the strategy was to reimagine pop culture through the eyes of oreo. we called it "daily twist." >> rushkoff: take the issue of same-sex marriage. if you're in favor of it and want the world to know oreo is there to help. >> here, this platform gave something as simple as a cookie-- a cookie, which is, you know, two chocolate and cream in the middle-- the ability to have a perspective on culture that was so profound. >> oreos are gay! >> that one post alone had a million likes. a million people took an action to say, "yes, i associate with that. i like that piece of content. that piece of content speaks to me."
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that's profound. those are big, big numbers. >> rushkoff: and those numbers are extremely valuable. >> there is right now a huge huge commercial push or corporate push, to collect as much data as possible. when you hit "like," when you retweet, when you make any expression online, you're creating data. you're creating a demographic profile of yourself. >> everybody go like my profile picture! >> everybody go like darius's picture. >> rushkoff: when darius's friends like his profile picture, facebook sees who he interacts with the most-- information that would be valuable to advertisers. when daisy likes dozens of brands on facebook, those brands can learn more about a potential customer, and all her friends as well. when ceili and her friends retweet news about the hunger games, the movie studio is able to track the response in real time. when tyler goes on youtube in search of the things he likes, youtube, which is owned by google, can track his every move.
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this is where the currency of likes turns into actual currency. >> companies know how to take that data and turn it into money. the people who are handing over the data, because they're hitting "i like this" or "i like that" or they're telling all their friends, "will you please come like me?" they have no idea what the value of that is. >> rushkoff: so all those selfies you take so that people will like them on instagram? they helped that company sell for a billion dollars. send a tweet, and you helped raise the value of twitter to around $30 billion. and facebook? it's valued at around $140 billion. those numbers aren't based on profits-- not yet, anyway. those prices are based on the volume of likes they can generate. and likes don't generate themselves. that's why companies need kids to stay online, clicking and liking and tweeting. how do they do that?
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>> who wants to win a call from lady gaga? (cheering) who wants to win a phone call from lady gaga? >> rushkoff: by giving kids a chance to be a part of the game: fame by association. you may not be as famous as taylor swift, but your photo can be part of her promotion for diet coke. >> ladies and gentlemen, show some love for beyoncé! >> rushkoff: send pepsi your selfie, and maybe it'll be included in this intro to beyoncé's super bowl halftime show. reach out to any celebrity or brand on social media and there's an implied promise they might reach back. >> and bam, there i am in the commercial. that's like literally a check off the bucket list. >> rushkoff: tyler oakley is proof that it works, at least for the skilled liker. >> like, oh my gosh, i am so excited for lady gaga tonight. >> rushkoff: his success in this game of likes is reflected in his numbers. >> darren criss, stop it! >> rushkoff: after seven years of talking about his obsessions, he's won over three million subscribers to the youtube
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channel he created. >> i don't know how it happened. it just happened out of the blue and it happened without intent and i think a lot of what i did was just talk about what i love and people gravitated toward it, and it's opened up a lot of opportunities and it opened up a lot of doors. >> i felt so vip official with my lanyard. >> rushkoff: he's covered mtv's video music awards on twitter. >> i'm so excited, i wish you were all here with me. >> rushkoff: he's a frequent guest on a pop culture show on youtube. >> when i, like, fangirl about things, i think people really relate to that. >> rushkoff: and when he went to see one direction in concert last summer... (crowd chanting "tyler!") ...tyler oakley, professional fan had quite a few fans of his own. (crowd cheering) >> the interesting thing about traditional celebrities and then youtubers, for a fan, they run up to me in the street and they act like we are friends. part of the reason why a lot
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of people, like, relate to me is that i am just one of them. >> oh hey, girl, come on in! >> rushkoff: but he's not, really. beyond his massive following on youtube, he has over 800,000 followers on facebook, 1.3 million on instagram approaching two million on twitter, and the numbers are rising every day. tyler is a millionaire in the currency of likes. >> i can upload tomorrow. >> i can upload whenever you want. >> rushkoff: but social media is all about sharing, and that includes sharing the wealth. when kids with large audiences work together, everyone benefits. >> well, hello, everyone. my name is tyler oakley, and i am here with oli white! >> my favorite thing to do on my channel is collaborations. >> christmas gives me, like, anxiety. >> all of us youtubers are realizing, "okay, there's no point in not wanting to help all of us be successful and all of us rise together." >> rushkoff: here's how it
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works: tyler does a video with oli white, introducing his three million subscribers to oli who has just 300,000. >> hey, guys, so today i am with louise. >> rushkoff: oli does one with louise, who has a million. >> woop woop! i am here with hannah hart today. >> hello. >> rushkoff: louise brings her audience to hannah, who has 920,000. >> you met shane dawson today. >> rushkoff: hannah is very happy to work with shane a comedian and musician with an astounding 5.4 million fans. >> ka-ching! >> rushkoff: and shane shows up in a video with liam horne. you probably don't know liam yet. he only has 45,000 subscribers. but that's going to change. >> ♪ oh, yeah... ♪ yeah, yeah, just like that, girl. ♪ hey, sexy lady, shane's got a message for you, ♪ so i'm gonna sing it for you... ♪ >> rushkoff: liam isn't trying to be a youtube personality, though. he's a relatively unknown
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musician hoping to make the big time. to do that, he's turned to a new kind of company called the audience. >> let's pull it up. let's see the 10th for instance. >> rushkoff: it's a talent agency, publisher, promoter and network rolled into one. it's the brainchild of oliver luckett. >> good to see you. >> what we do here at the audience is we run a publishing network. what we do is we basically run the social media on behalf of entertainers and artists and musicians and actors, and we help them express themselves inside of this medium. >> how many days of shooting was this? >> rushkoff: it used to be that if a kid didn't have good connections, hard work and talent was the only path to fame, and even that was no guarantee. but today, there's another route: build and leverage a social network. >> the piece that you did with shane dawson, i mean, that's got two million views in two weeks. >> yeah, yeah, yeah... >> and you read every comment on your youtube and they say
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"shane brought me here but now i love you, now i want to know more about you." >> it's crazy. what they're doing right now is kind of the job of what a record company would do for me. they're building my fan base for me and helping me with media stuff. >> sawyer hartman showed up. he was, like, really cool. >> the big youtube kid? he's got like half a million followers, right? >> yeah. >> that's awesome. >> rushkoff: liam has genuine talent, but it's almost beside the point. to get ahead, he needs to attach himself to others who have mastered the game of likes: kids like acacia brinley who has over a million followers on instagram. she's only in the video for a few seconds, but she's a critical part of the marketing plan. >> ♪ 'cause the truth is yeah, the truth is... ♪ >> all these people in my video already had their own amazing followings, which is like a million followers here and there, and they're all in my video and they tweet about it,
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talk about it, instagram it, so all their fans are like "wait, who's this kid they're all hanging out with?" and they'd all come over. so it's basically just merging the fan bases all together, you know? >> rushkoff: from the outside, this does sound empowering: a bunch of kids working together, helping each other to get ahead without having to rely on the usual corporate suspects. but look a little closer. is this a music video or an ad for the ford fiesta? >> it's nice to see that at every step of the way, brands have been willing to step in and help pay for the videos. his first video, we got support from ford motor company. in this last one, you had... adidas gave you stuff, young & reckless so it's nice to see that your art is being funded as well. oh, those are bad. >> sick! >> rushkoff: it's a perfect mash-up of culture and commerce. >> i love you, man, i love you.
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>> it's christmas! >> rushkoff: everybody seems to be getting what they want. take steven fernandez, a 13-year-old skateboarder from compton, california. >> is that that famous kid? >> hey, steven! >> and he's famous? >> rushkoff: i like that whole question, "are you famous?" >> i'm not famous, you don't know me, i'm not famous. >> rushkoff: it's not, "is he on tv, is he an actor, is he a good skateboarder," it's "famous." it's just that word. >> they need to stop worrying about the followers and start worrying about their money. >> rushkoff: steven's been worrying about money all his life. his family's never had very much of it. >> this is my living room. this is where dad sleeps. i lay down there sometimes. all right, let's go to my room. >> rushkoff: two years ago he started putting videos of himself up on youtube. >> i started skateboarding. that's the number one thing i love to do. the first video i ever posted, i didn't think anyone
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was gonna like it. i mean, i just posted it and it started getting views. i was hyped. i was happy. i didn't think it was going to go that far. >> rushkoff: but it did. he got hundreds of views then thousands. soon, all those little likes turned into youtube gold: corporate sponsorship. >> rushkoff: how did the first company find you? >> primitive was the first company that sponsored me. i made a video skating, and andy, the dude from primitive, saw it and was like, "yeah, let's get this dude in this company." >> rushkoff: does it go right to cash sponsorships? >> they start giving you clothes and then it goes to money. >> rushkoff: today, he's a walking billboard for his sponsors, literally head to toe. >> rushkoff: the sneakers? >> these are supra. >> rushkoff: and the socks? >> these are dgk socks. dgk board, a-struts, gold wheels, grizzly grip. oh, yeah, and thanks to all my sponsors for helping me out.
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appreciate it. >> i was, like, "man, if i keep doing this, i can actually support my family and get them off poverty and this little hood." >> rushkoff: youtube cuts him in on the cash from ads placed on his videos. but up to now, his sponsors have been paying him largely in skate gear or branded merchandise. that's not enough to vault him out of compton. but then, steven's not riding to fame on his skateboard talents alone. >> are you okay? >> i think i just (bleep) my pants. >> oh, no! >> rushkoff: lots of kids can skateboard. steven needed a way to cut through the clutter. >> can you clean me? it really smells. >> once you start doing these funny videos, you get more than skater fans. i started to get bigger and bigger. >> rushkoff: so now steven goes by the nickname baby scumbag.
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more than a skateboarder, he's a raucous, raunchy internet sensation, banking huge numbers of clicks and views and likes. >> are you famous? do you do something? >> rushkoff: how do you judge whether a video's doing well? >> the views, the likes, the shares on facebook the likes on facebook. the more views i get the more comments i get, the more money i get. >> are you crazy? you're trying to see [beep] that bad? are you happy now? >> rushkoff: baby scumbag's views are rising as his content gets racier. he still skates, but gets hundreds of thousands of views on videos like these. >> any normal guy can get a girl, huh? hey, cuties, you guys wanna touch my [beep]? oh, my god, i think i found a white girl that can twerk! >> rushkoff: so now, when steven goes out to make a video... >> today, i'm gonna be holding hands with random people. >> rushkoff: ...he often leaves the skateboard at home. >> ma? ma?
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>> young people want attention they want validation and that's actually not new. it's just that now, the possible stage on which you can operate on is much bigger. at the same time, the ability to get attention in a place where there's tons of information, where there are tons of people competing for attention, is also harder. when your business depends on the number of clicks, the number of page views, the number of ad impressions, what you really need from people is their attention. >> i've seen your youtube video! >> because it's a way of actually capturing money as well. because it's the car crash. >> it's taffy! it's very rare, bruh. >> they watch these things because people wish they hanged out with models like i do in these videos, but it's all fun. >> right here, angel! >> rushkoff: as if to prove the point, steven introduced us to a friend he said was the best skater at the park.
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better than himself. angel's got the moves, but most of his videos only have a few hundred views. >> rushkoff: you're making youtubes and stuff, too? >> yeah, whenever we go skate, we just film a little bit of stuff and eventually it turns into enough footage to get it on youtube. >> rushkoff: how many views does your stuff get? >> the video with the most views, of course has steven in it. so that one has 38,000 views. >> rushkoff: if you don't have a zillion hits, then you generally wouldn't get noticed by a sponsor? >> yeah, exactly. there are videos out there that got upwards of 10,000 views, and those are the ones that people really look at. so unless you're on one of those channels, then i feel like you're not going to get that much recognition. >> rushkoff: is there stuff you can do to make something get seen more? >> just doing crazy stuff. like what steven does, like how to get girls and stuff. because those get hundreds of thousands of views. so there's that. >> rushkoff: thus a generation was empowered through interactive media. >> why on earth would someone
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spend all those hours to make a youtube video of them doing something absolutely stupid and insane? they're only gonna get a check for three dollars for doing it. but money isn't the only currency. >> this is a condom. >> and when you can see that you have 5,000 followers on twitter or when someone recognizes you as that kid who did that stupid stunt on a mountain bike and broke your arm, suddenly your arm doesn't hurt because you know you're famous. >> everybody desires to be famous. >> facebook famous. >> instagram famous. >> the most popular person on youtube. >> it's way easier to become famous for something outrageous. >> girls will post half-naked pictures. >> make a video and get like a million views. >> get as many friends as many likes as possible. >> you want to be liked. >> will this get likes? >> it's all about likes. >> let's see how this works out! >> rushkoff: but how much fame is enough? does the quest for likes ever end? what happens if you finally go all the way?
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not some niche sensation on the internet, but a bona fide hollywood star? >> hello. >> rushkoff: the kind of heights reached by ian somerhalder. >> you're just so pretty. >> rushkoff: he has wealth and fame and immortality as the star of the smash hit series the vampire diaries. he also has oliver luckett who handles his social media. >> welcome to my world. >> have you been killing again? >> i don't think pbs would like the blood. >> it'll spice it up a little! >> rushkoff: ian may be living every kid's dream, but he's still reducible to his numbers of likes. though his numbers are a little different than yours. >> right now you're actually at 6.3 million fans. you're now reaching 24 million unique people a month. >> we were looking at the live numbers of the show, and what you guys have created has a higher number value than actually the viewership of the vampire diaries in the united
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states. it's just crazy to me. thank you, buddy. >> thank you. it's all you, dude. >> rushkoff: oliver's just being modest. the content may be ian's but as he showed me, oliver's company is running the show. >> it has a calendar of content that's coming out. you know, if we looked these are two objects that are coming out right now, it's been approved by the artist. >> rushkoff: and then when it goes out, you can track how well it did. >> exactly. if i look at the facebook post analysis, i can see pretty much in real time what those objects are doing. this picture, "coming home from work, luckiest dude in the world," of him and his newborn puppies, reached 5.4 million unique people with 8.9 million views, right, with 377,000 stories generated about it. and so the list kind of keeps going on every time he talks and sometimes twice a day, three
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times a day, he's reaching three to six million people. >> rushkoff: now, if i'm a brand... >> right, then you want to be in this business. >> rushkoff: i want some of this! how much does it cost me? >> it is going up. literally, our business has done that in the last five months. >> rushkoff: i mean, show me what kinds of products or brands that ian's followers like. >> sure, so if i go in and start looking at this platform... >> rushkoff: and there they are: your likes. dissected, analyzed, and in oliver's hands, monetized. >> if you start looking at beauty & health, for instance, it's origins, right? that makes total sense. >> rushkoff: if you like ian and you like a product or brand, oliver knows. >> 6.7% of the origins audience interacted with ian somerhalder's content. >> rushkoff: and those interactions can mean prized endorsements for oliver's clients. >> so if you're connected to ian and he likes the product and
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then you like ian and you like the product, then now you've got a double endorsement to your friends. >> rushkoff: it's an asset ian can use however he wants whether it's building up his nonprofit foundation or other more profitable pursuits. >> i now understand that understanding how to quantify that value is huge. it is the coolest thing, pretty much, since sliced bread. >> rushkoff: maybe it makes sense that oliver's company is called the audience, because in the end that's what he's selling. and remember: the audience is you. so i get social media and i use social media to promote my career so that i can get to the point where i have a social media network that i sell. >> that's exactly right. you are your own media company 100%. that's every single person's goal in this. the smart ones. it's all very transparent. it's all very obvious, you know. >> rushkoff: obvious and transparent?
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or simply invisible? want to see how it actually works? take a look inside the offices of tvgla, a social media marketing agency just outside hollywood. >> so we're brainstorming on the superhero movie. of course, our target: millennials. >> rushkoff: tvgla has promoted movies like wolverine and the expendables and tv shows like homeland. >> we start with the research and strategy phase where we really dig into who that audience is, and then we figure out how that audience uses social media to communicate. >> you can also sort of ask people, "which power would you want?", and then you have people tweet their responses. >> the challenges would be using that audience in the way that you want to use them in order to see the results you're looking for. >> rushkoff: in other words, instead of selling the product to the audience, the idea is to get the audience to sell the product for them. they want to make the interactions seem open and transparent. but all that transparency
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takes a lot of planning. >> doing something with green screen, where people walking down the street can walk up to it and be inserted into a scene. >> it's all about continued more openness. because that openness, you know, starts creating essentially what most brands want, which is trust. you want to trust in any conversation that you believe what that person on the other side is telling you. and it's no different between a brand and your best friend. >> what if even you insert yourself into a news report and you could share that video with your friends? >> you've got the line in and you're reeling in the fish. so it's not like... you can't jerk it too fast, you can't give it too much slack. you gotta feel constant tension. >> a hashtag that's revealed at the end of the credits that pulls everyone back to pulling out their phone and tweeting something. >> then you start really deploying, heavily, your engagement strategies. creating memes, letting the audience caption those memes getting them to enter into a sweepstakes or a contest asking them to share your content. you know, "like this post for x" or "share it for y." >> it's all about trying to
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figure out this pipeline of connected pieces that are going to continue that audience to be essentially your best marketer. because that's the hope. >> the 75th hunger games! >> rushkoff: just take a look at two of the biggest movies aimed at teens: the hunger games and its sequel catching fire. >> catching fire is coming out. >> i've seen the ad online. >> commercials on youtube. >> a lot of my friends would post pictures. >> are tweeting a lot about it. >> like, new movie posters and the outfits. >> like this page about the hunger games movie. >> it's exciting it lures you in. >> yeah, i am excited about it coming up. >> rushkoff: what's designed to look like a grassroots wave of excitement is actually a meticulously planned marketing strategy. it may be "catching fire," but it was doused with gasoline beforehand. >> absolutely nothing is left to chance. i mean, with the hunger games i had the sort of rare chance to look at what their strategy
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was of, like, day by day, hour by hour, what they're putting out in the world. 12:00 noon pacific yahoo page goes live. 3:00 p.m., tumblr photo of this person gets released. 6:00 p.m., this. the goal is to create a controlled brush fire online and so the fans at a certain point are convincing each other, "oh, wow, look, that's really cool, did you see that?" >> rushkoff: so ceili, sitting in her bedroom trying to win sparks and badges by liking the hunger games isn't just being marketed to; she's actually part of the marketing campaign itself. >> you get ten sparks or 15 sparks for sharing something or making something on tumblr, whatever, twitter, facebook. so that's basically what they use to show how much stuff you've shared. this is basically how i find out news about the hunger games and catching fire, like casting information who's on what magazine cover stuff like that.
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>> all those little tidbits can serve as fuel for this online fire they're trying to create, and that is how they both keep interest up, they keep the flames burning, and they prep the next one. >> i find out about it, i tweet about it, more people see it and basically it's just like one person finds out, it goes to two more people and then it just kind of multiplies. catches fire! >> every bit of it is being manipulated from the beginning of the campaign to the end a year out. your 16-year-old is right now starting to have an interest in movies that are a year away and she's thinking it's organic. meanwhile, there's a studio back there counting how many times did she click on it. >> rushkoff: we asked lionsgate to talk to us about their marketing for hunger games 2: catching fire, but like many companies we approached they declined. >> the studios worry that the minute that they show you that there's a man behind the curtain pulling all of these strings
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the audience will start tuning out, so they're sort of really working hard to pretend that it all happens by magic. it's hollywood, it happens by magic, right? (laughing) >> rushkoff: but to the studios, the real magic is that kids like ceili are happy to work for free promoting their films. >> it's a lot of work to do all this. it takes a lot of time to retweet everything, to like everything. so i was liking and sharing all these posts for, like, four to five hours. my hands were so tired after! it makes me feel like a worker but it's all worth it in the end because... i get more sparks. >> your consumer is your marketer, and i think that's a real shift because it used to be a one-way conversation of the marketer to the consumer. and now the consumer is doing as much as the marketer is in getting the message across. there is this unique moment
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where they are wanting to be as much a part of the process as a company will let them be. >> rushkoff: lots of companies are happy to put kids to work, and not just at marketing. sometimes they'll let them provide the content for the whole show. trending 10 is a new kind of program on the fuse network. it's sponsored by trident gum, made by the same company that makes oreos. it decides what content to feature by monitoring social media feeds. >> we start the day off by looking and seeing what conversations are spiking on twitter around music. >> rushkoff: justin bieber. lady gaga. the kind of music teens love to talk about. >> then we create a show in the morning based on what's actually being talked about in twitter. >> lady gaga premiers "applause" music video on gma. >> so then we create a show around that, and then we create 20 pieces of content throughout the day that's distributed on
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twitter around how the conversation is changing. and so that's real-time video content creation around discussion that's actually happening, taken from where the discussion started and putting it back into the discussion in this fluid ecosystem between tv and twitter in a way that's never been done before. >> rushkoff: did you get that? kids are coming up with the content, then helping to promote it back to themselves in an endless feedback loop between broadcast and social media. >> hmm, what do you guys think? share your thoughts on the subject over @tridentgum and @t10. >> rushkoff: and of course selling trident gum. >> guess what? when we're using twitter to distribute video that has trident branded around it from a trident show and you're watching, that's signaling you to remind you to go pick up trident gum at point of buying. >> companies focus on marketing to teenagers because they hope they'll form a brand loyalty with a product. so now that it's just blossomed on the web, the sky's the limit
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for commercial culture. i don't think there's a sense that there's any shame in being marketed to or marketing. >> pepsi sent me to new orleans for the super bowl. >> rushkoff: tyler oakley doesn't have any problem with it. >> oh, my god, look at how cute my jersey is! >> i have done a lot of work with pepsi, audible, warby parker, mtv, tons of brands. >> the link to that is below so be sure to click that. >> i have been fortunate. a lot of brands believe in me. >> rushkoff: he's been so successful at turning his youtube channel into a marketing juggernaut that he's now considered an expert even advising corporate executives how to master the economy of likes. >> so talk about your work with taco bell. >> so taco bell is great. i literally was just on the phone with them this morning. they have been really at the forefront, i think, for youtuber interactions. >> so there i was in bed
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minding my own business, tweeting at taco bell, saying i'm protesting taco bell until they address the absence of a cool ranch doritos taco... >> they have a voice they're cool, they're fun, and our people get excited when we are tweeted by them. >> come here, come closer. can you see the label? can you see what kind of taco that is? i'm getting an exclusive first bite. >> the second when a brand is, like, "we trust your judgment," i'm just, like, "oh, my god, you're the best thing ever," and i'm ten times more likely to give a real good genuine integration. >> (bleep), that's good. >> i do a lot of brand integrations whenever it works but i try to keep it minimal. >> yeah, that's a cool ranch. that's the best. >> so how did you feel like that content with the brand played out with your 12-year-olds? >> surprisingly, they can always tell if a youtuber is, like, pushing something. so i try to keep it transparent and honest because they know it's my job and they know that
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i have to pay bills. they get that, so it's all good. >> so what do you think is the future of the tyler oakley brand? >> world domination! with brand deals. >> my plan for the future is world domination, but by my own rules, which is the coolest part because i am doing what i love and i feel like a lot of opportunities are there if i want to work for them. >> catching fire is on audible, so you get your first book free. >> selling out is not selling out anymore, it's sort of getting the brass ring. if you get taco bell to sponsor your stuff, it's like, "hey, look, i'm important enough that taco bell realizes you're an important audience to reach so let's all geek out about taco bell for a video. i don't care." >> we just bump into john mayer because who else would you bump into at a taco bell party? >> i say now that selling out doesn't even exist as a term. i don't hear young people talking about selling out. i'm not sure they even know what
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it means. >> selling out... can you define that? >> well, selling out means like... it can mean different things. >> i guess i think first of like a concert that's totally sold out, like, no tickets left. that's probably not what you meant, though. >> i don't know what that means. >> you could sell out like an album or you could sell out, like, you're a sell-out, like you're nowhere in life you're never gonna get back on top. >> hey, everyone! >> rushkoff: so tyler has millions of likes in his pocket, which he can trade to brands in exchange for their sponsorship. has tyler won the game of likes? and is this really social media's promise of self-determination? promoting movies in exchange for virtual prizes? playing the class clown in public to get free skateboard gear? expressing your identity through junk food advertisements? can kids really win when they don't make the rules?
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maybe that's why some of them are opting to become the game makers themselves. >> a lot of people who created this culture are kids or were kids when they created it, so it does actually reflect a teenage zeitgeist. it's not the adult advertisers versus the supplicant teens of yore. it's now like the teenagers are creating this architecture. they grow up and they become you know, super-rich silicon valley types, and then there's this giant underclass of people forced to go "like, like, like like, like" and who are probably around their age, you know? >> rushkoff: so who are these young power players of generation like? and what are they choosing to build? >> i'm immortalized as "the 19-year-old founder," but i'm 22 now. >> rushkoff: when brian wong was still a teenager, he devoted his considerable talents not to chasing likes on social media, but to creating an advertising network called kiip. >> kiip is a rewards network and
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it takes moments that already exist in apps and games-- moments in time that again are meaningful to you and having brands there, be there, to make that moment even better. >> in this case, which is a fitness application, the user just completed a workout. >> rushkoff: app makers can use kiip's network to turn virtually every moment of your life into a branding opportunity. level up in a game or accumulate likes on a social app, and seemingly out of nowhere comes a coupon for a free product. >> it says, "you just earned a kiip reward," the brand logo's right here, user clicks on that, and boom, they just got their award. they're awesome. >> rushkoff: it's a seamless blend of marketing, media and everyday life. but brian's more than just an ad-man; he's actually a kind of psychologist. >> there are nuances on how you present things that create different psychological responses. we don't even call ourselves ads to consumers. terminology we use is "rewards" and "moments," and there's really no mention of ads
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or even media. as we go out and experience the world, the things that make the most impact on us are the ones that come up serendipitously. so that's the psychological principle we're offering. >> rushkoff: serendipity by design. it's almost orwellian. but maybe it was inevitable. after all, this generation has grown up in the arena of likes so it's no wonder that they're also becoming master manipulators of social media themselves. >> 50, 49... >> rushkoff: like the hidden game masters in the hunger games. >> the hunger games kind of represents social media today. like, social media kind of rips people apart. they are all put into this arena where you're forced to try to survive on your own. >> this is important because higher ratings will mean sponsors. >> they have sponsors usually when they go into the arena. >> and to get sponsors, you have
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to make people like you. >> they have to do things in order to get people to like them. >> push the like button now. >> the game makers, which are the people that kind of control this arena, the game makers sit and watch them, but basically they're in there alone trying to survive. >> you really want to know how to stay alive? you get people to like you. >> rushkoff: in the end, that's how the game of likes is played. it feels empowering and it feels like a social community, but ultimately kids are out there alone, trying to live and survive. kids like daniela diaz an eighth grader in southern california who has only just begun her journey into the arena. >> gotta get in the zone! in my imagination, i see myself standing in front of a crowd in front of thousands of people. i love to sing, and singing is my passion, and i breathe music. >> rushkoff: about a year ago, she starting making videos at home, encouraged by her
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mother manuela. >> i don't want to brag, but i always thought she's had a pretty special voice. so i kind of nurtured it. it was like, "oh, my god i can't believe you're making me do this." and i said, "do it." >> (singing) >> and she just locked herself up in that room-- i think it was a couple of hours-- and she did the videos. >> (singing) >> then i put it on my instagram and people started to view it, and i was so happy i started getting views, which i didn't think was going to happen. so it kind of blew me away. >> rushkoff: more people than you knew in real life? >> yeah. >> rushkoff: and how does it feel when you see, "oh, my gosh, another 100 people have viewed this thing?" >> it feels overwhelming. it's unbelievable. >> rushkoff: and then the videos changed from just music to... >> to not just singing anymore. >> dear diary... dani's do's and don'ts... middle school melodrama... >> i thought it would be a cool
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idea to let people know that i want to interact with them. >> i'm gonna help you guys. i'm here for you. so just make sure you comment, and i'll get to you. >> i like interacting with my "fans." >> rushkoff: it's funny to say it, then. >> it tingles! >> rushkoff: because it's new? or do you feel it's true though? >> well, i've had comments on there saying, "wow, daniela, you're my idol. i'm your biggest fan." that was the first time i was exposed to the word "fan." so i guess i can say i have one fan? >> rushkoff: it used to be ordinary kids didn't have fans. now everyone wants more. and the whole world can watch as the numbers rise or fall. >> instagram is what she uses, and so i've noticed, because i'm also the one that takes the pictures on that, i said "wear this, wear this, and i will take the picture, i will tell you how many likes. you're gonna get over 150,"
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and she does. i hate to say it, but if i have a full body picture, she will get tons of likes and that's just the reality. >> rushkoff: listening to her, i realized how pervasive this value system of likes has become. >> you have a chance to get your name on this wall-- this gorgeous wall! >> rushkoff: that's it right there: the wall, the interactivity, the offer of fame by association. kids take the very marketing techniques that have been used on them and use them on one another, all in pursuit of the same prize. >> all you have to do is subscribe and like all my videos. >> rushkoff: it's the paradox of generation like. these kids are empowered to express themselves as never before, but with tools that are embedded with values of their own. >> i'll get a couple of likes, i'll get a couple of views i'll be happy with myself. >> rushkoff: getting likes
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does feel good. >> keep tuning in! bye! >> rushkoff: at least in the moment. >> narrator: next time on frontline... >> pope francis comes on the scene at a time when the church is in a deep crisis. >> he wants to change the direction of the church. it's risky to take on the vatican curia. >> cash travels across the atlantic in the direction of rome, not in the other direction. >> if you tell anybody, your parents will burn in hell. >> all roads lead to rome and to the papacy. >> narrator: "secrets of the vatican." >> visit for more on what teens are doing online. >> everybody go "like" darius. >> youtube star tyler oakley on his career and his work with brands. >> look at how cute my jersey is!
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>> where is this all going? explore the future of digital marketing. >> the sky's the limit for commercial culture. >> plus connect to the frontline community. sign up for our newsletter and follow us on facebook, twitter and >> frontline is made possible by contributions to your pbs station from: and by the corporation for public broadcasting. major support for frontline is provided by the john d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation. committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. more information is available at additional funding is provided by the park foundation. dedicated to heightening public awareness of critical issues. the wyncote foundation. and by the frontline journalism fund, with major support from john and jo ann hagler and a grant from scott nathan
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and laura debonis. captioned by media access group at wgbh >> for more on this and other frontline programs, visit our website at frontline's "generation like" is available on dvd. to order, visit or call 1-800-play-pbs. frontline is also available for download on itunes.
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this february... explore african american lives and history. uncover the spies of mississippi. "we knew we were being followed. i knew my life was in danger." follow two students who strive to fulfill an american promise "there's nothing you can't do we'll back you up all the way." and experience the "beauty in truth" of au thor alice walker "i would give to the human race only hope" it's all here during black history month only on pbs
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welcome to "filipino american lives." i'm host lea salonga. coming up are two films about filipino history and heritage. "the delano manongs" profiles labor organizer larry itliong and the filipino farm workers who instigated the delano, california grape strike of 1965, which brought about the creation of the united farm workers union. "jeepney" introduces us to the most popular form of public transportation in the philippines. ornately decorated jeepneys originated from surplus american jeeps left after world war ii and have become a permanent fixture of filipino cultural expression. "the delano manongs" by marissa aroy and "jeepney" by esy casey and sarah friedland,