British Brands Asked to Take Pledge

By Mash Bonigala

Marketing to children present numerous challenges. First, you must create a brand that children can identify with. Then, you must make sure that your brand is just as attractive to parents, who control the purse strings. These are often conflicting goals, leaving many businesses to wonder: how can one market to the youngest customers while keeping their parents happy?

To complicate matters, parents in the UK are generally unhappy with the way that most companies market to their young ones. According to The Mothers’ Union, eighty percent of British parents feel that today’s marketing encourages sexual awareness in child viewers. Almost as many think that British children are forced by the media to act older than is appropriate. Although laws are in place to prevent it, 67% of parents also find that inappropriate image (both marketing and otherwise) are shown on television before nine.

The charity, which has almost 100,000 members in the UK and about four million globally, released these findings this month in a report entitled “Bye Buy Childhood.” They are now asking British companies to take a pledge similar to the fair trade pledges that are commonly seen. This pledge, however, is to market fairly to children, not taking advantage of their youthful naivety or encouraging them to partake of activities inappropriate for their tender years.

In exchange, companies who take the pledge and change their marketing strategies accordingly will be allowed to use the campaign logo and also may be promoted in a special section of the charity’s website.

If companies are not willing to make these changes voluntarily, they may soon find that new legislation forces their hand. The prime minister has already vowed to change regulations addressing marketing to children. There are currently many loopholes that businesses can exploit if desired, such as the lack of legislation regarding company websites. Some of these marketing websites contain inappropriate or misleading information that could not be legally placed in other marketing venues. This loophole is already on its way to being closed, according to the Advertising Standards Authority, which plans to change the language to include all marketing types.

This topic has been addressed before, but children continue to be targeted by questionable marketing. What does this mean for your business? It means that you and your branding staff must work diligently to market to this young audience in a way that does not compromise their innocence or exploit their vulnerability. Not only will this keep you on the right side of the law, it will make your company more attractive to parents who may not want their young ones so aggressively marketed to.

There are many considerations when marketing to children—or to any group for that matter. This is why branding and logo design professionals are important. These experts know how to market to just about any group in a way that is ethical, legal, and effective. Talk to a consultant if you need a brand and logo design that you can be proud of.