August 21, 2008

Is Disney – Disney anymore ???



No one can forget the poignant moment in Peter Pan when the impish character urges rapt audience members to clap their hands to bring life back to his favorite fairy, Tinker Bell.

Now Disney is hoping that Tinker Bell–along with a collection of pirates and other Disney characters–can help breath life back into its mobile phone services for kids. Beginning in September, Disney plans to roll out a grab bag of goodies for young cell phone users, including a mobile storefront, instant-messaging chat system and virtual world widgets.

The mobile market for children and ‘tweens looks like pure gold to the likes of Disney. For uber-connected 9- to 14-year-olds, who can’t yet drive and might not have their own computers, cell phones are a lifeline to their best friends, favorite music and videos and chosen brands. Market researcher MultiMedia Intelligence says the U.S. had more than 16 million teen mobile subscribers in 2007, up 12% from 2006.

Disney is hardly new to the tricky mobile market for kids. In June 2006, the company became a mobile virtual network operator, or MVNO, by leasing airwaves from Sprint. The company sells games and ringtones in more than 70 countries, mostly through partnerships with mobile carriers.

Disney is reaching out and you should be aware. Think deeply. ,=

A mobile widget called “Fairy Friend” puts an animated butterfly fairy on users’ phones.. Players will have to feed and care for the fairy on their phones. A mobile game connected to Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean Online virtual world is planned for September or October. Players will engage in short “battles” and earn virtual coins that they can spend online at

Clap your hands–and open your wallets—or make a comment


August 13, 2008

So Sexy So Soon

The madness of Wall Street and Madison Avenue in sexualizing children has reached critical proportions and is creating un uproar in Europe and the USA . Oddly Canada is largely passive.

The sexualization of girls in fashion advertising is not a recent phenomenon. Who in the industry can forget that twenty years ago, Calvin Klein – known for his controversial advertising – had 15-year-old Brooke Shields saying in one of his adverts “Nothing comes between me and my Calvins.”

Today the sexualization of children is way over the top. Witness some contemporary children’s clothing by Beyounce which one commentator called “where the playground and the prostitute meet”. Its racy stuff. But there is more who can forget that in April, ‘Vanity Fair’ a featured 15 year-old Miley Cyrus — daughter and ‘the pride’ of singer Billy-Ray Cyrus — in a topless photo-shoot. What were they thinking she is only 15. Clearly they were not thinking but Vanity Fair did achieve what marketing wanted which was to drive sales. Just check the stats of Vanity Fairs sales for that edition. The June issue as reported by ABC Rapid Report sold 435,000 newsstand copies.

It seems there is no end to how far marketing will go and how unthinking they will be  if not monitored. 

What are we marketers thinking when they release T-shirts for girls with the slogans such as ‘so many boys, so little time'”., thong panties, padded bras, and risqué Halloween costumes. And what are marketers thinking when they release T-shirts that boast “Chick Magnet” for toddler boys.

The problem of exploitation of children is pervasive and something has to be done. But that is another story which I will write about in the next few weeks. In the interim do have a look at websites such as the Campaign For A Commercial Free Childhood.

And read up and get a copy of So Sexy So Soon which is an invaluable and practical guide for parents who are fed up, confused, and even scared by what their kids–or their kids’ friends–do and say. The book is very readable and authored by Diane E. Levin, Ph.D., and Jean Kilbourne, Ed.D., both internationally recognized experts in early childhood development and the impact of the media on children and teens, They offer parents essential, age-appropriate strategies to counter the assault. For instance:

• Help your children expand their imaginations by suggesting new ways for them to play with toys–for example, instead of “playing house” with dolls, they might send their toys on a backyard archeological adventure.
• Counteract the narrow gender stereotypes in today’s media: ask your son to help you cook; get your daughter outside to play ball.
• Share your values and concerns with other adults–relatives, parents of your children’s friends–and agree on how you’ll deal with TV and other media when your children are at one another’s houses.

Filled with savvy suggestions, helpful sample dialogues, and poignant true stories from families dealing with these issues, So Sexy So Soon provides parents with the information, skills, and confidence they need to discuss sensitive topics openly and effectively so their kids can just be kids

Read about the book So Sexy So Soon

Website of So Sexy So Soon

View an NBC interview with the Authors

August 8, 2008

$1,618,600,000 to promote food and beverages to kids

Kids Food

Kids Food

The number in the headline is obscene and morally repulsive. Big industries have truly lost their heads.

I will comment on this in the next few days.  Until then thanks to the website Daily Kos the story is out there and well told.   Michele Simon has written an excellent article “It’s Official: Big Food Targets Kids”

“It’s a rare day when I think the Federal Trade Commission has actually performed a valuable public service and lived up to its motto, “For the Consumer.” But last week, the agency charged with protecting us from unscrupulous marketers (among other corporate aggression) released a landmark report on food marketing to children. At the request of Congress, FTC subpoenaed 44 food and beverage companies to find out just how much money is spent targeting youth with food marketing. While the recommendations are worthless (more on that later), the data is priceless.”

Its an essential read READ MORE

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