By Charlotte Anderson,REDBOOK
When clothing brands first started scrawling logos across teenage girls' butts, I rolled my eyes and wondered how girls could be okay with their butts being commercial billboards. Nowadays, brand names on clothing, purses, and cars are almost standard. Companies are extending their brands' reaches even younger now by directly offering to sponsor children that fit the demographic they're targeting with their products.
In England, Weetabix recently hired 12 "busy, active" kids to wear special Weetbix clothing during their busiest and most public activities, but this "child sponsoring" isn't limited to other side of the global pond. As every mommy blogger knows, companies are desperate to get their products on adorable little salespeople-usually in the form of "free" stuff, but occasionally in the form of cold, hard cash.
Is this savvy business practices? Is it child exploitation? Are these companies just being kinda tacky? It all depends on who you speak to about this issue. One blogger friend (who was only willing to be quoted anonymously on this issue, which highlights the topic's controversy) said she only accepts and promotes products she and her kids truly like. She explained, "They're going to drink [x sports drink] at soccer games anyhow, so why not accept the free coupons? Plus, the [branded] towels and water bottles are great." This isn't always possible, however, as some children may dislike the promoted items. I'm going to guess that those tiny Brits don't like Weetabix any more than American kids do.
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While it's more controversial in the under-12 set, regular grown-ups are no stranger to promoting businesses either. Maybe you don't have a personal sponsor, but have you ever been to a "House Party"? Yep-all the food, coupons, toys, decorations, and promotional materials were supplied by the company behind the event. There are even a few families who make their entire livings this way: with one totally average family quoted in the Today article as making $240,000 a year for promoting different companies.
What do you think? Is corporate branding the wave of the future?
Would you accept freebies for your kids that are obviously meant as advertorial? What if these companies offered to pay you?
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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.