Child’s Play

Brands such as Mattel, Ninetendo, Wrigleys and Coca Cola are using and paying children to be their brand ambassadors. Forgive me for being rather shocked at this outcome but I thought child labour had been banned in this country in the late 19th century. How on earth have these companies got away with this?

In response to the Bailey report, Letting Children be Children, David Cameron yesterday asked for the process of companies paying children to publicise and promote products in schools or on social networking sites to be stopped by banning “the employment of children as brand ambassadors and in peer-to-peer marketing.” Why don’t our employment laws already cover this?

I am aware of small focus group research that many children’s companies do before launching products into the marketplace, however I am rather shocked to read in the Telegraph yesterday that over 300,000 children have been recruited, many under the age of 5, to promote particular products to their peers for cash, goods and tickets to events. They are asked to talk up products to their peers, host product parties and share positive messages on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Schools are even profiteering from this scheme, receiving up to £4,000 for the participation of their children.

Ed Mayo, the former head of the Government’s consumer watchdog Consumer Focus, described the practice as legal but “creepy”.  These companies are like vultures preying on children. Marketing companies are now employing the same practices that were once reserved for adults as the children’s market in clothing, make-up and  accessories has proved to be a high value growth area.

It does make me wonder what is the bigger problem: the sexualisation of children or that the adults have no boundaries when it comes to profiteering in this capitalist world. Doesn’t the latter breed the former?


One Comment to “Child’s Play”

  1. This is a creepy practice but isn’t it parents (or aunties) that have to hand over the cash or credit card to pay for the products kids want? Kids are kids, my niece wants the entire toy section in the argos catalogue and everything she sees on tv but we have to curb her imagination and desires and bring them back down to reality. If parents stop the supply of toys on demand would this practice not decrease? It should be quite easy to say no to coke!

    My niece was an unpaid brand ambassador for Dora the explorer and Ben 10 should we file for backpayments?

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