I’m presenting on responsible marketing to youth at the Sunday Times Generation Next conference today, looking at ethical considerations for marketers when targeting kids and youth 8 – 25 years old.

Some ethics questions brands need to ask about their campaigns:

  • Does it promote health?
  • Is it harmful?
  • Is it legal?
  • Do you know if you need parental consent?
  • Are they mature enough to deal with the topic?
  • Is it the politically correct thing to do?
  • Are you creating unnecessary peer group pressure?
  • Are you exploiting children’s natural trust?
  • Are you exploiting their lack of experience and sense of loyalty
  • Are you portraying children in a sexually provocative way?
  • Are you encouraging consumerism in the face of a severely indebted nation that doesn’t even have a savings culture?
  • Are you feeding the culture of getting something for doing nothing?
  • Are you promoting instant gratification and impatience?
  • Are you helping families to connect or disconnect?

Every business has the right to make a profit. But at what cost? Family is the single most important aspect in a young person’s life aged 8 – 25 years, revealed by the HDI Youth Generation Next Survey 2017 today. What are brands doing to help families to stay connected? To celebrate the parent-child bond? To protect childhood while also helping youth to grow themselves and move the world forward in some way? To make a difference? To change the world?

Brands need to beware of abusing kidfluence (how they use kids to influence the family budget spend), breaking trust with children and their parents, and feeding social ills.