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.


Reinventing the family pet- dangerous or funny?

Filed under: Lifestyle,politics.,Social Justice — Tony @ 12:12 am

Just when I thought genetically modified this or that had gone away – up pops a truly astounding stupid idea. It seems a company by the name of Lifestyle Pets has re-engineered the tired old cat and dog to produce brand new products for a modern lifestyle.  Go figure !!!
How’s is this possible you ask … well they’ve invented a hypoallergenic cat, which sounds handy. I need one of those but without the tinkering.

Good news thought apparently the Ashera is a hybrid cat [no its not  light on fuel]  This cat comes out of a petri dish and is a cross between three different types of exotic felines. It resembles a leopard, but will still eat Whiskas  or Pedigree or any other brand name food and may murder the family dog a mouse from time to time without making you sneeze and itch. Sound brilliant ?. Well the geniuses behind this engineered feline have a price for this kitten

It costs between $22 000 and $125 000 ! At that price   it better bloody well shake a killer martini and pack the dishwasher as well. Mango and Pachebel my cats are hopeless at household chores.

More good news from  Lifestyle Pets this time on the dog front. Apparently  the company also offers a dog called the ‘Titan Family Protection Dog’ . No doubt this  is a nice new marketing spin for a focused and very mean dog.

How did I guess- well will we ever learn that this is crazy ???.

PS: Have you  checked the icecaps lately? . Seems with mankind learning may take a while.

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 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

April 1, 2008

Persepolis and Understanding Iran

Filed under: Lifestyle,Marketing,Social Justice — Tony @ 5:10 pm
Tags: , , ,


I will get nothing from Google ranking for this post but yesterday I got myself down to to a theater to see Persepolis. Right there is a classic in the making. Its a movie with a great story and production techniques that hearken back to the early and glorious Disney days. Sadly the new Disney probably would not have the courage to produce it. Its a revealing movie about Iran and very well told. Everything is seen from the point of view of the main character who brings forth her memories as a little girl in Iran, as a teenager in exile and as a married woman back in Iran. The story is always interesting, heart-felt, funny, sarcastic at times, nostalgic, cruel and absurd at some points but very very convincing. I highly recommend it.

I love stories and that speak from the heart and show character. Read Marjane Satrapi’s two books and rush off and see her movie Persepolis.

Make sure you check out the Persepolis website. That website is so bang on to the topic. Well done to whoever produced it.

The biggest asset of the Persepolis is that it doesn’t preach, it leaves everything to the viewer’s judgment, and this is something to be appreciated because we all know that cartoons can be very effective propaganda devices.


And make sure you read Marjane Satrapi’s two autobiographical graphic novel (comics) that describes her childhood in Iran after the revolution. They are brilliantly told and illustrated.

March 30, 2008



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 27, 2008

Hijacking Childrens Space

hockey2.jpegCryptic as that may sound I am referring to a report in the New York times about a new venture,, which is creating a social networking site for youth sports which is expected to start in mid-April. It is aspiring to be like Facebook for youth athletes, parents and coaches — a vast audience. The value proposition or soft sell of is that young athletes will be able to set up a profile, post pictures, communicate with friends and share videos of games. Of course the coaches and parents are included. Coaches will able to communicate with their players and parents and parents will be able to get practice schedules, coordinate car pools and find out which equipment to purchase.

Youth sports are huge. It involves parents a huge audience and the 52 million children who participated in organized children’s sports leagues. (National Council of Youth Sports.) It’s a massive audience into which to project brands and products- but is it right?

Remember that Madison Avenue has for eons used professional sports teams as a way to promote and market brands products and services. What followed was the push to sell brands and services to the college level and then high schools with Takkle, a social-networking site for high school athletes which are partially owned by Sports Illustrated.

Now with the “WePlay” model , Madison Avenue and advertisers will have the chance to present brands and products to even younger and younger audiences.

An that is not the end of it. Potentially as Rick Heitzmann, managing director at Pequot Ventures, the venture arm of Pequot Capital Management has been reported to say “There’s no reason to believe that the organizing principles that are applied here ( to sports can’t be applied elsewhere, such as to religious organizations,”

Everything is going commercial Play and Prey. Is that a good thing???????

My vote is no.

Managing Risk for Children – a British view


March 26, 2008

How a marketing guy bought the hype on bio fuels

Filed under: Environment,Lifestyle,Social Justice — Tony @ 11:56 am
Tags: , ,

corn.jpgMarch 24 The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) warned about the risks posed by agro fuel production What a shock when today Bloomberg reported that Robert Watson, the U.K.’s chief environment scientist is calling for a delay in policies to increase the use of the biofuels pending tests into the sustainability of the alternative fuels.

It seems with all my experience in marketing I had bought the hype. I started to change my mind on biofuels when I read articles about global basic food price rises and saw the price rises it in my supermarket. What finally changed my mind was the recent debates in the UN Assembly debate on Climate Change in New York. There the debate about  biofuel food vs. fuel was framed starkly as   “people literally will starve to death in parts of the world, it always happens when food prices go up.

He is right.

Even Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic the the man who has a great deal to lose since he is so vested in the idea of biofuels (see links below) now says he regrets investing in ethanol for financial and environmental reasons. Time to go Hydrogen?

See Below:

All of that criticism comes just weeks after a Science magazine study says biofuels can be twice as harmful as gasoline .


January 22, 2008

CARE & FAIR – An Initiative Against Child Labour

Filed under: Social Justice — Tony @ 9:55 pm

Child labor in the the weaving regions of the world is a huge issue. In the USA and Canada we typically charge headlong at the issue like this and while meaning well we can often do harm.

I  registered Care and Fair to fight against illegal child labor in the manufacturing sector of hand knotted carpets. We are passionate about this but we want to be wise in our response.

Situations in third world countries need a measured and thought out response. We think that a buying boycott does not show favorable results in the struggle against child labor. It can very often causes even more misery among the families and specially the children. The reasons are complex in the hand knotted and weaving Industry. Child labor is often not due to child exploitation or hatred but its a deeply structural problem. Families have to all work to put food on the table. Sometimes these are loving situations and there are really no alternatives. We concluded that we have to have a measured response and do something practical that fitted the reality on the ground. Lets not boycott and do more harm lets find a program that works to improve the conditions on the ground. Care and Fair is a practical and realistic organization that works at a fundamental level to work against the exploitation of children by providing education and health care

I like CARE & FAIR because it builds and maintains schools, kindergartens, apprenticeships and hospitals for basic medical treatment in the carpet centers of India, Nepal and Pakistan. Up to now, more than 2,7 million Euro have been donated for this private development aid. is now working with Care and Fair.

December 22, 2007


Filed under: Social Justice — Tony @ 10:19 am

In my tiny neighborhood coffee establishment they offer FAIR TRADE and ORGANIC COFFEE. Those coffees sell out first. What a change. Two years ago no one noticed but the winds of consumer change were blowing and now justice, environment and labor really matters. Did any one miss GLOBAL WARMING ??

As a rug lover I am deeply encouraged that the rug industry is taking note. We have to its the right thing. The Rugmark Foundation is a wonderful international nonprofit organization that is working to end exploitive child labor practices in the carpet and rug industry and give educational opportunities to children in India, Nepal and Pakistan. I was amazed to learn that sales of child-labor-free rugs have increased by nearly 30% per year since 2004, out pacing the overall U.S. rug industry sales.

The good news is dozens of rug importers and retailers are joining the struggle and RugMark’s membership has grown exponentially. is a RugMark supporter. The winds of change are blowing and I welcome it.
Story on Child weavers
Rugmark Foundation
Research on Rugs and Child Labor

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