Suzy Bashford Marketing 11 May 2005
A groundswell of anger at improper advertising aimed at children means marketers must rethink their use of risque advertising.
Sex, violence and spiralling debt. The roll call reads like a guide to misspent youth, and marketers should not be surprised to hear they are being blamed for encouraging such a lifestyle. Marketers are targeting children with inappropriate advertising more than ever, and a growing volume of protest from parents and authorities threatens the industry with shunned brands and unprecedented legislation if they fail to change their ways.
Supermarket Asda incurred the wrath of outraged parents last month for targeting girls as young as nine with see-through black lingerie. It later withdrew the range, blaming an ordering error. Homelessness charity Centrepoint recently branded the credit card industry 'unconscionable' when it revealed that marketers were urging young homeless people to apply for credit cards with incentives such as cash upfront and free trainers. And Reebok has been lambasted for glamorising gun crime following its high-profile TV ad starring US rapper 50 Cent.
There is no doubt that young people make potentially valuable customers.
UK tweens and teens are Europe's richest, with annual income per child reaching £775 in 2003, twice as much as for Spanish children, according to Datamonitor. This income is predicted to jump by about 10% to £848 in 2008.
But while youths are a prized target audience, do marketers have a moral obligation to market products more responsibly to them?
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