Don’t Pay Kids to Promote Brands

Discussion
Jun 13, 2011
Bernice Hurst

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.”

Discussion Question: Should children be recruited (and paid) for promoting brands?

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8 Comments on "Don’t Pay Kids to Promote Brands"


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Ryan Mathews
Guest
9 years 10 months ago

I’m in the “let kids be kids” camp–but I’m afraid that ship has sailed and there’s no way to call it back to port. The “kid” market is just too enticing for branders to pass up and the best way to recruit kids is by using other kids.

Doug Stephens
Guest
Doug Stephens
9 years 10 months ago

There’s no difference between kids paid to be in commercials or paid for social networking on a brand’s behalf. But the real point here is that if you have to pay kids to talk about your brand and its products, you’ve already failed.

Gene Detroyer
Guest
9 years 10 months ago

And, why not??? It will pay for a lot of college educations. After all, “Mikey likes it!”

There is another issue in this discussion that is more concerning. That is promoting products in schools. Schools are a place for education and good education does not include the promotion of any commercial products. Promotion in school suggests a certain credibility for those products that does not and should not exist.

Liz Crawford
Guest
9 years 10 months ago

Increasingly, brand advocates may be incented or rewarded…and may come to expect some compensation for their efforts. This is because shoppers are marketer’s new pay-to-play mechanism.

Regarding the issue of kids–hey–kids have always nagged parents for brands and talked up their wishlist to their friends. What about the list for Santa? It is a little late to get worked up about this, I think.

Herb Sorensen
Guest
9 years 10 months ago

I am very grateful that all the “protections” of children were NOT in place when I was growing up. My very first commercial experiences, other than as a customer, began with a classroom store our teacher assisted us with in the first grade–and I’ve never stopped selling! (Or working.) A mentor once told me that he thought a paper route was a prerequisite for an entrepreneur!

I never had a paper route but sold a long list of things door-to-door as a kid, some organized by adults, but many not. Count me as four square opposed to the nanny-statism as being deployed by hordes of bureaucrats with poor understandings of what makes society work. NOTHING HAPPENS UNTIL SOMEONE SELLS SOMETHING!!! If people will stop stomping on the brakes, the economy will take off like a rocket. 😉

Jonathan Marek
Guest
9 years 10 months ago

Too many parents try to hide kids from everything. It doesn’t work. Promoting brands isn’t taking drugs–it’s not necessarily a bad thing! There are plenty of opportunities to constructively engage children in marketing, with parental support and guidance.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
Guest
9 years 10 months ago

Kids have been paid to be in commercials. How is paying kids to talk about a brand different? Oh, if kids are just talking you don’t know that they are being paid. That is an issue for any social media transaction–is what the person is saying their own opinion or are they being paid to say it? Is this really a “kids” issue or an issue about transparency?

Geoffrey Igharo
Guest
Geoffrey Igharo
9 years 10 months ago

Maybe a better way to ask the question is: should society allow anyone who is a minor (and therefore deemed to require protection from exploitation by adults because their mind is immature) to be exploited by companies for financial gain?

The answer should be obvious. Unless one is of the belief that adults should be able to conduct otherwise illegal and immoral activity by hiding behind a corporate persona.

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