Marketing Genius is a series created by BuzzFarmers to give virtual high fives to anyone who develops a unique (and brilliant) marketing idea worth talking about.

One of the most disturbing moments (of many) in the recently released Fed Up – a scathing documentary about the role of sugar in the rise of obesity in the United States – shows an exec from McDonald’s testifying before Congress.

When asked about the company’s advertising practices in marketing to young people, the exec doesn’t blink an eye.

“We don’t market to children,” she tells the committee in an unnerving monotone, as if brainwashed. “Ronald McDonald informs and inspires by magic and fun.”

Scary stuff. Hey, some mega-chains decide to do the right thing, and some don’t. Sometimes, it takes a nonprofit to teach them a little corporate responsibility – or at least set a good example for others.

Yes, McDonald’s makes trillions marketing to young people. Tools for Peace just makes the world a better place marketing to young people.

stop breathe thinkIt was founded in 2000 to foster kindness and compassion – through camps, coursework, and after-school programs – particularly among children and adolescents.

Within the past year, however, the organization has carried its Stop, Breathe & Think curriculum over to a free meditation app, modernizing its operation and marketing to young people with ethics, encouragement, and sincerity.

The app – designed with great style, intuitiveness, and fun by the cooperative One Long House – doesn’t exploit the fact that teens and preteens today are all but fused with their smartphones; it turns it into a plus.

[Tweet “McDonald’s makes trillions marketing to young people; @ToolsforPeace just makes the world better.”]

What if McDonald’s used a significant percentage of its advertising dollars on nutrition education and enrichment purposes, for the Saturday morning cartoon kids of yesteryear and the YouTube viewers of today?

After all, the majority of red-blooded Americans don’t begrudge fast food giants for selling burgers and fries. They’re begrudged for bombarding kids with misleading images of unhealthy foods whose ingredients and preparation methods contribute to real health problems as we age.

Think of how impressionable children are, and then consider the fact that tobacco companies can no longer market their products to adults on broadcast or billboards – and that they have to include warning labels with their packaging.


When Marketing to Young People, Be Mindful

It’s tough to be a kid in this busy, dangerous, media-saturated world. Kids receive competing, conflicting messages what seems like every minute, and companies have unprecedented access to their nascent critical thinking skills (not to mention, frighteningly, their nascent data). Marketers – from any industry, not just fast food – must be sensitive to the long-term effects of this, for the benefit of society as a whole. Choices have consequences, and corporations can choose how to operate.

Tools for Peace understands this, and aims to make a more positive impact on our youth. They’re talking with kids, as opposed to at them, and helping to prepare them for adolescence and adulthood through empowerment.

More and more in the West, mindfulness is emerging as a quality-of-life practice, and Tools for Peace, via meditation, has introduced it to children, teens, and even adults who otherwise might not have encountered it. As Fast Company reported earlier this year, there are many meditation apps available, but Stop, Breathe & Think sets itself apart by focusing its efforts on kids and offering more interaction, itself a great feature for young people who just want to be heard and have agency in their own lives. As Executive Director Jamie Price told the magazine:


[blockquote who=”” cite=”” align=”left”]“The app gives you the option to check-in with how you are doing, mentally and physically, and then presents a list of meditations tailored specifically to you. The check-in process is a simple way to quiet down, be still and figure out what’s going on inside. Then the recommended meditations are meant to be a support, to help you deal with whatever is going on. The app creates a log of your process, and you can share what you’re up to.”[/blockquote]

The best part about all of this? Stop, Breathe & Think is taking root in schools. Look, I get that Tools for Peace is a nonprofit. It’s just nice to think that their work could offset that of Pepsi and Pizza Hut – which are also in schools. It’s wishful thinking that these corporations will learn marketing to young people from a meditation app, but at the same time, reassuring to know young people are learning actual life skills and acquiring emotional intelligence from it.

Does your company have customers who are are children or teens? How do you approach marketing to young people?

Published On: October 20th, 2014 / Categories: Marketing Genius / Tags: , , /

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