September 4, 2008

Cradle to Grave – Marketing to Kids

As a marketer one thing that absolutely makes me cringe is marketing to kids.  Its so manipulative and oh so  calculated.  The goal is to manipulate kids as marketing influences on their parents and to get kids hooked on brands from “cradle to grave”.  Its simple get kids when they are vulnerable and  plastic and they will be imprinted for life,   If you have the time spare a moment and watch this out take of  Lucy Hughes explaining  what marketing to kids is all about.  Its honest and  very revealing and bang on the money.

Its  a little hidden gem about marketing  to kids.  When I watched it I yelled  “Gotcha”  because this video   brilliantly illustrates how ethics and marketing to kids are two different sensibilities.

Looking forward to comments on marketing to Kids

Highly Recommended ****** etc.

For background information on marketing to kids I recommend.


September 2, 2008

Marketing to six year olds

Filed under: Lifestyle,Marketing,Marketing to Kids,Social Justice — Tony @ 5:30 pm

The reach of marketers to children is endless. This is one of the worst I have seen.  The Campaign for a Commercial- Free Childhood  has reported that Bus Radio in the USA has stepped over the mark. I totally agree.

Please support them.

Here is a copy of their email:

BusRadio, which hopes to “take targeted student marketing to the next level” by forcing children to listen to its commercialized radio broadcasts on school buses, has sunk to a new low. The company is advertising the highly sexualized new television show 90210 on, its website for children as young as six.

Tell Bus Radio: Stop promoting 90210 to six-year-olds. – the company’s website for students that  is promoted throughout BusRadio’s broadcasts on elementary, middle, and high buses – is urging children to tune in to tonight’s premiere of 90210, a show that the CW Network calls a “sexier” and “more provocative” update on the popular series from the nineties. [1] A trailer for the show on the BusRadio website teases several sex scenes, while a banner ad featuring the stars of the show in sexualized poses links to the show’s website.[2] The show is exploiting preteens “currently smitten with Hannah Montana and the Jonas Bros” through merchandise such as backpacks, school supplies, and clothing.[3] Media reports also suggest the show will feature a significant amount of product placement.[4]

BusRadio sells itself to school districts as an age-appropriate alternative to FM radio, but the company’s definition of “age-appropriate” frequently differs from that of parents. Seminole County, Florida recently terminated their relationship with BusRadio when the company refused to stop playing songs from albums with parental warnings for explicit lyrics and content. Advertisers on BusRadio’s elementary school broadcasts include the highly sexualized Bratz brand. Another elementary school advertiser,, tells students to do their homework by looking up their answers on the Internet and mocks a student for carrying around books. BusRadio broadcasts encourage young students to visit its website where inappropriate media, including Mature-rated video games and now 90120, are promoted.

We believe no child should be held captive by BusRadio and we will continue to organize parents and educators around the country to keep advertising off of school buses. But we also think it is important to protect those students who are unfortunate enough to ride buses with BusRadio from this kind of sexualized advertising.

Please visit to tell BusRadio to stop advertising 90210 to young children.


The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood

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

April 9, 2008

How I got a teens respect

Filed under: Lifestyle,Marketing,Marketing to Kids — Tony @ 5:20 pm
Tags: ,

My apologies if you find this odd. I am in the middle of bad cold so my writing will be on and off for the next few days. (I have recycled this article over from TRonMarketing-its got a sting) Anyhow- My neighbors spotted teenager asked me about cool adds and I pulled out the well known mustached milk adds. He is after all a key market segment. His comment “whatever” told it all.
Since that humiliating experience I have been on a mission to catch his attention. A few days ago I heard about the California Milk Campaign which tries irony. Think shades of Spinal Tap and a retro young ironic hip cool vibe? Who would have thought to put milk inside a guitar? In the hands of a musical phenom by the name of White Gold?
And you may ask what was the spotted ones response. Coool or something like that. Anyway it seems irony is the new cool. I am cool again.

April 2, 2008

Kids 8-11 flock to Social Networks

Social media and kids

In the United Kingdom its is reported by BBC that more than a quarter of eight to 11-year-olds who are online in the UK have a profile on a social network .

Do you know what your Kids are doing on Social Networks?

BBC reports that most sites, such as Bebo, MySpace and Facebook, set a minimum age of between 13 and 14 to create a profile but none actively enforce the age limit.

It really seems as if the adoption of social networks is happening at a faster rate than nearly all other forms of communication.

For the full report go to Ofcom which is the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries, with responsibilities across television, radio, telecommunications and wireless communications services.

March 30, 2008

Advertising on Webkinz ????

According to the highly respected Campaign For “A commercial Free CHildhood, the most visited virtual world for children in the United States, has quietly begun targeting children with outside advertising.

The site is already commercial – in order to subscribe to it, children must buy a Webkinz toy that comes with a special code. But apparently this wasn’t enough for Ganz (the makers of Webkinz) Ganz is now selling their young users to advertisers. According to the “CAMPAIGN FOR A COMMERCIAL FREE CHILDHOOD Ganz didn’t bother to inform parents, many of whom purchase Webkinz toys for their children expecting that the website will be free of outside advertising and links. These are serious allegations that Ganz is choosing to maximize profits at the expense of parents’ trust and children’s wellbeing.




On Tuesday Google will launch a parent’s resource for kids’ safety online which is called Family Safety Guide . Its reported that Google with the media-awareness group Common Sense Media to produce an online video called “A common sense approach to Internet safety.” You will be able to find it on the guide page, on YouTube, and throughout the video-on-demand services provided by Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Cox (which are partners of Common Sense.) This new action by Google is on top of Google’s “safe search,”which filters out inappropriate material for kids from its list of search results; and the Google directory lists kid-safe sites. Google is stepping up to the plate and matching what it’s rivals Yahoo, AOL, and Microsoft have done. The educational video is also a big gesture. Watch Google on Tuesday when it is rumored they will post a blog about the site

March 29, 2008


campaign-for-a-cemmercial-free-cvhildhood.jpgAs a marketer with a long track record I find marketing to children is questionable to say the least. To keep up with the debate and keep myself balanced in my marketing and advertising practice I rely on the” Campaign For A Commercial-Free Childhood”. The Campaign For A Commercial-Free Childhood is the result of an innovative conference which was held in 1999 at Howard University. The conference brought together a diverse and interdisciplinary group of activists, academics, educators and health care providers concerned about the corporate influences on children. One year later, a number of conference attendees gathered in New York City to protest the Golden Marble Awards, the af1.jpgadvertising industry’s celebration of marketing to children. No surprise with ads like this being placed in the market A year later the
Campaign For A Commercial-Free Childhood was born as a national coalition of health care professionals, educators, advocacy groups and concerned parents who counter the harmful effects of marketing to children through action, advocacy, education, research, and collaboration.

Essential Reading

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