The Federal Trade Commission staff will host a forum March 12, 2009 to gather input for its upcoming education program on advertising literacy for “tweens,” or kids who are 8 to 12 years old. At the forum, experts on advertising and marketing to kids will discuss a range of issues, including:

  • What kids experience in the commercial world
  • What kids understand about their experience
  • Which consumer education efforts will help kids to navigate better in the commercial world

The goal of the campaign is to educate kids on how to be better-informed consumers of information.

Why this matters: We’re not sure yet who is speaking at the event, but our hope is that we’ll hear from those who can actually shed some light on this important marketing segment. CARU has long lumped kids under 12 into one basket, with some very strange results. For instance, not so long ago, CARU was bringing actions against movie studios for advertising “Harry Potter” and “Star Wars” during shows that were attractive to “tweens” on the grounds that they were meant for children 13 and over. Luckily, Wayne Keeley’s CARU has taken a turn toward reality and has involved the MPAA in making better determinations as to which movies are appropriate for kids advertising. 

Thus, our hope is that this workshop will help demonstrate that older kids (in the 8-12 range) are very savvy both in terms of their emotional development and their maturity for purposes of distinguishing between advertising and editorial content. It would be a shame if the Commission puts up a series of paternalistic, anti-ad activists who think most kids should not be exposed to any commercial messages. We also hope that the workshop will focus on the key issue of “blurring” that impacts video game manufacturers, and anyone who uses advergames as a form of marketing to kids.