Social media isn’t child’s play when used to target early teens
The first challenge is to ensure the success of the marketing campaign and the second is to maintain credibility and responsibility for the campaign with a wide range of stakeholder groups, including parents and guardians and of course the Advertising Standards Authority.
The ethics of marketing to the early teens segment is becoming one of the hottest topics in the marketing industry, often fuelled by concerns over obesity and the isolation of young people who prefer the ‘virtual’ to the real world and would rather spend their time on Facebook than with their mates in the local park.
It’s against this backdrop that the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) has offered new guidance to marketers in the use of marketing to early teens and children within a peer-to-peer (P2P) non-broadcast environment.
P2P marketing refers to a range of techniques whereby a brand owner may incentivise a child to express their endorsement of a particular product, such as a soft drink, software game or licensed product based on a TV or movie franchise.
The incentive in the online environment is likely to be some form of exclusive content, virtual credits or accessories for avatars if the user ‘Likes’ on Facebook or Re-tweets (RT) on Twitter, where this becomes visible to their friends in news feeds.
In such a situation, the guidance reminds marketers that the CAP code applies to web sites and other online environments, including sales promotions where the marketer is deemed to have editorial control if it retains the power to intervene to correct or ask for the removal of a communication.
It’s important that marketing communications to this group is correctly identified and not masquerade as editorial, for example, within Twitter using #spon or #ad in order to remove any element of confusion.
The general principles of marketing to children and early teens haven’t changed for over a decade and include the duty on marketers to ensure that such communication either directly targeted or featuring children mustn’t exploit their credulity, loyalty, vulnerability or lack of experience.
Ardi Kolah is author of Essential Law for Marketers (£19.99), published by Kogan Page and available on Amazon. Click the book to order your copy today!