The Federal Trade Commission has launched a multi-media campaign through the website www.admongo.gov to educate children and teens, ages 8 to 12, about advertising. With “tweens” becoming a larger and more important part of the marketplace, the initiative seeks to raise kids’ awareness about advertising so they can make more informed decisions when they shop or play a role in family buying decisions.

The goal of the campaign is to boost advertising literacy by:

  • Raising awareness of advertising and marketing messages
  • Teaching critical thinking skills that will allow tweens to better analyze and interpret advertisements
  • Demonstrating the benefits of being an informed consumer

In addition to an online game featured on Admongo.gov, other elements of the campaign include in-school curricula, sample ads that can be used at home and in the classroom, and teacher training videos. The FTC partnered with Scholastic in creating resources which have been distributed to elementary and middle school teachers nationwide.

In an interview on NBC's Today Show, Bureau of Consumer Protection Director David Vladeck explained that the program is designed to teach kids how to think critically about advertising messaging. He explained that while the FTC is not taking a position of whether ads are good or bad, the campaign gives kids the tools they need to "navigate through this very intensely commercial environment they live in."

As the tweens market is estimated at $200 billion in sales, advertisers should take note of these efforts to educate young consumers about how to distinguish between advertising and content, and consider how best to both inform and engage tweens with innovative messaging and product promotions.

For additional background on Director Vladeck's enforcement agenda, reference The Antitrust Source article, "Interview with David Vladeck, Director, FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection."