FTC educates tweens about advertising

WASHINGTON: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is working with Fleishman-Hillard on a multimillion dollar educational campaign aimed at getting tweens to think critically about advertising.

WASHINGTON: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is working with Fleishman-Hillard on a multimillion dollar educational campaign aimed at getting tweens to think critically about advertising.

The main element of the campaign is a website, Admongo.gov, which teaches kids about advertising literacy through an online game, a glossary of advertising terms, a library of fictional ads, and downloadable, family-based activities.

The site is targeted at eight to 12 year olds, said David Vladeck, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, the division responsible for the campaign. He added that this is the first major initiative from the organization that targets children.

“There has always been a commercial world that kids have had to navigate, but it has reached a point where it seems kids are advertised to every moment they are awake,” he said. “We feel it is crucial to communicate to kids…and explain to them the definition of an ad, especially since a lot of advertising has moved away from making claims to more subtle emotional appeal.”

FTC is reaching kids through school classrooms, by providing fifth- and sixth-grade teachers with free curriculum that ties into the site. Scholastic, a partner in the program, is distributing the curriculum material to 100,000 teachers across the US over the next few weeks.

In addition to helping develop the website and game, Fleishman executed a media relations campaign to launch the campaign. Vladeck appeared on NBC's Today on April 28, the day the initiative launched with a press conference in New York.

Fleishman also created promotional videos for the FTC YouTube channel 

“In terms of media, we've been reaching out broadly as we want to reach as many parents and teachers as we can,” Vladeck told PRWeek. “We're hoping teachers [who don't receive the Scholastic material] hear about Admongo, and go to the website because all the lesson plans and homework assignments are available online.”

While the launch was aimed at a general audience, Harry Frazier, SVP and senior partner for Fleishman, said the team will start reaching out to online communities of parents and teachers. “In the fall we'll have another push for back-to-school season, but we want teachers aware of it now, before they start planning the curriculum for next year,” he added.

So far, the FTC has spent more than $2 million on the initiative, said Vladeck. Depending on funding from Congress, the FTC may also launch the site in Spanish as well as other languages, he added.

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