Don’t Pay Kids to Promote Brands
Earlier this month, The Daily Telegraph headlined the recommendation that companies should not pay kids to promote products contained in a U.K. government-commissioned report on the commercialization of childhood. The Telegraph has previously reported about young children being paid to conduct market research for large companies and promote brands on social networking sites.
More publicized recommendations concerned getting suggestive clothes out of stores and not allowing lewd advertisements anywhere kids might see them. In response, retailers promised they would take action. Politicians promised they would take action if retailers did not.
Reg Bailey, author of Letting Children be Children, is chief executive of the Mothers’ Union, a Christian organization that says it runs programs in 81 countries aimed at meeting “the needs of people within local communities.”
In a letter to Mr. Bailey reported by the Telegraph, Prime Minister David Cameron particularly endorsed stopping “the process where companies pay children to publicize and promote products in schools or on social networking sites by banning ‘the employment of children as brand ambassadors and in peer-to-peer marketing.'”
PR Week claimed the proposal “is likely to affect the way the PR industry engages with children.” Francis Ingham, chief executive of the Public Relations Consultants Association, was quoted as saying that for a few agencies, the effect could be “very significant. … It’s a difficult thing to balance creative ideas that are commercially viable with the reality of how parents feel about these things.”
PR Week also referred to Mr. Cameron’s comment but claimed parents and grandparents are more often targets because they have the actual purchasing power.
According to the Telegraph, Mr. Cameron’s letter cited his other priority as being “a single, user-friendly website that sets out ‘simply and clearly what parents can do if they feel a programme, advertisement, product or service is inappropriate for their children.'”
Mr. Bailey himself told the BBC that parents want responsibility but would also have some of the “barriers that sometimes make parenting difficult taken away from them.”
- Bailey review: companies must not pay kids to promote products – The Telegraph
- Mothers’ Union report brings spotlight on youth marketing – PR Week
- Supermarkets sign up to kids’ clothing guidelines – The Grocer
- Stores face ban on sale of “too sexy” clothes to girls – Daily Mirror
- We must protect our children – The Telegraph
- Child sexualisation complaints website to be set up – BBC
Discussion Question: Should children be recruited (and paid) for promoting brands?