Selling In The Parent-Free Zone

The American goverment tells us that parents are the anti-drug:

Your words and actions matter. Two-thirds of teens say that losing their parents' respect and pride is one of the main reasons they don't smoke marijuana or use other drugs.
But others seem to think that we have little or no influence over our teens. This July 13th, the movers and shakers who market brands and products to teens are offering a conference called "What Teens Want: Creatively Reaching Today's Teens through Music, Media, Movies, Videogames, Sports and Online." Here's how they issue the invitation:
Teenagers spent over $158 billion in 2005 and are expected to spend $205 billion in 2008. If you want a share of the teen market, this is the event you need to attend.
Whose money are these delectable consumers spending anyway? Ours. Do these salesmen (the conference features only two female speakers) think that our kids never discuss their purchases with us? That we're ready to sign a check or hand over a credit card without any questions? Apparently. Take a look at the parent-free programming they're offering:
Get the latest news on what’s bubbling up from the streets into the mainstream. Hear how emerging trends impact new products and services, the buzz of the moment and how to keep a marketing campaign authentic with this savvy group of consumers. Samantha Skey, Senior Vice President, Strategic Marketing, Alloy Media + Marketing and Tru Pettigrew, Senior Vice President, Multicultural and Urban Marketing, Alloy Media + Marketing.

Today's dynamic teen market uses brands to invent its identity in everything from music to technology to fashion. Ringtones sales alone will hit $1 billion by 2008. Howard Handler explores how Virgin markets its brands to reach teens through imaginative, targeted strategies and communication. Howard Handler, Chief Marketing Officer, Virgin Mobile, USA.

Sony Screen Gems reveals the elusive formula in creating a story that sticks for teens and then marketing to them through a range of media. Learn how to use nontraditional marketing strategies to keep teens coming back for encore performances and buying the DVD, video game and related merchandise. Clint Culpepper, President, Screen Gems, a division of Sony Pictures Entertainment
Marc Weinstock, Executive Vice President, Marketing, Screen Gems, a division of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Fashion and style marketers share secrets on how to get it right. They tell how to launch a new product using teens as the marketers, how to mix media to let teen consumers navigate through retail environments, real or virtual, and what trends will make it though to the next season. Ashley Heather, Chief Executive Officer, Entertainment Media Works, Dave Knox, Teen External Relations Manager, P&G Beauty, Heidi Minx, President/Muse, Franky & Minx, Moderated by Chauncey Zalkin, Founder, Girl-on-the-Street.

The action sports craze hasn’t simmered down; it has become highly integrated into the social fabric for both boys and girls. Lifestyle marketers share how they have been successful in creating networked communities that constantly reinvent action sports and keep it fresh in apparel, equipment and retailing.

What’s new in movies on phones and TV on iPods? What’s the hottest online community today? Where is the wireless revolution taking teen products next? Sophisticated tech experts present the latest news on using mobile and online tools to reach niche customers and market to them when and where they want it. Greg Clayman, VP, Wireless Strategy & Operations, MTV Networks, Larry Shapiro, Executive Vice President and General Manager, North America Mobile, Walt Disney Internet Group, Greg Tseng, Chief Executive Officer,, Bill Nielsen, Senior Director, Xbox Global Partnership Marketing, Moderated by Jim Edwards, Senior Editor, Brandweek.

New bands showcase on video games. Music is an integral part of TV serials. Songs carry the moment on every screen. Innovators and creative marketers present case studies on using music as a successful marketing strategy. Steve Greenberg, President, Columbia Records, Howie Kleinberg, Senior Vice President, ElectricArtists, Josh Rabinowitz, Senior Vice President, and Director of Music, Grey Worldwide, Moderated by Scott McKenzie, Group Editorial Director, Billboard Information Group.

Teens call the shots in a candid conversation of what turns them on and what turns them away. Moderated by Jenna Mielnicki, Marketing Director, Teen Vogue.
Let's hope this last panel provides the wakeup call for these marketing gurus: our teens are not alone, waiting for the perfect sales pitch with unlimited discretionary money. We stand with them, and so does their Maker, who cares very much about how they spend their money.


heidiminx said...

I came across my name on your site in a web search. I'm always open to hearing other people's opinions and thoughts -- I'm a firm believer that if there were more communication and tolerance in the world, the world would be a safer and happier place.

I would like to say the treating the conference as a whole instead of as a sum of its parts is doing a disservice. Then again, in general, blanket statements about religons, social groups, schools of thought, races etc. are the foundations for stereotypes that later hurt the individual.

I personally grew up with very little money. At 33, I still feel extremely young, and in fact run a community that reaches out to those younger than me, trying to be a positive role model, understanding their concerns, promoting responsible decisions, cultural understanding, and social responsiblity. I also encourage these kids to learn to do things and make things for themselves -- a DIY approach as many of them can't afford what shows on the pages of glossy magazines.

I've done relief work in Haiti (I enjoyed your post on Bangladesh) and contributed nemerous hours to charitable efforts (especially ones that help kids)-- and yes, there are many more important things in the world than selling. Do I have children, no -- but on a daild basis, I'm interacting with hundreds of people yournger than me, and I feel a responsibility for their welfare.

I just wanted to put this up here, to dispel the thought that the only pupose of the panel is to prey on teens, or assume that parents aren't involved -- and as a reminder that a group is comprised of individuals.

Mitali Perkins said...


I so appreciate you stopping by and introducing yourself. I'm glad that you're going to be on the panel, as I grasp your compassion for the kids for whom you are designing clothes. I'm grateful to be challenged on the lumping together of people (in this case, those interested in selling to teens) without discerning invidual differences. The One who made our individual soulprints and fingerprints also reminds me not to judge, so you are echoing words I seek to obey.

Here's the reason behind the frustration that spurred this post: when it comes to MOST people who are interested in marketing to teens, I feel they consistently underestimate the power of MOST teens' relationship with their parents. I hope this summers' panel proves me wrong because I expend much parental energy trying to steer them away from the allure of stuff-worship.