The advertising industry spent $12 billion in 1999 targeting kids. And, it worked, kids ages 12 to 14 spent $24 billion and influenced $300 billion of their families’ spending. Lutheran Brotherhood is concerned that the barrage of marketing message coupled with a lack of positive financial guidance from parents has long-lasting negative effects on how kids develop financial responsibility.
- Part of Lutheran Brotherhood’s mission is to serve Lutherans and their communities. Your Money, Your Message was an opportunity to position Lutheran Brotherhood as:
- Willing to broach a sensitive subject.
- A resource to Lutherans.
To guide our efforts, we:
- Conducted focus groups with kids to determine their attitudes about money and marketing.
- Conducted a nationwide survey with kids to determine their attitudes about money.
- Conducted a literature search for supporting documentation about marketing to kids and kids’ attitudes about money.
- Conducted a literature search to learn about our target audience – kids ages 12 to 14.
Following is a sampling of what we learned:
- More than $12 billion will be spent in 1999 to market to kids.
- Three out of four kids say they learn the most about money from their parents.
- Seventy percent of teens say that kids get too stressed out over money and possessions.
- Seventy percent of parents say that marketing to kids is bad for their kids’ values and worldview.
- One in five kids say that advertising does not influence them at all.
The target audience was kids ages 12 to 14. The secondary audience was parents, Christian educators, youth leaders and other interested adults.
The objectives of the events were:
- To demonstrate the influence marketing and advertising have on kids’ attitudes and behaviors about money.
- To show the importance of being aware of the influence marketing and advertising have on kids’ attitudes and behaviors about money.
- To encourage kids to develop a balanced approach to using their money that is based on their values, rather than marketing messages.
- Event objectives were achieved through the following strategies:
- By teaching kids the tactics advertisers use to influence them.
- By showing kids how much money is spent targeting them and how much power kids have as consumers in our society.
- By engaging kids in discussions about how their values relate to how they use their money.
- By giving kids tools to take home to continue talking about faith, values and money.
Based on target audience research, Shandwick developed naming guidelines and name ideas for the events, and proposed three options to Lutheran Brotherhood.
Nathan Dungan, Lutheran Brotherhood’s vice president of Stewardship and Brand Development and expert on kids and money, was the main presenter.
John Forde, host of the public television show, Mental Engineering, facilitated a kids’ panel to analyze commercials aimed at kids.
Shandwick met with Dungan and Forde to finalize content, conduct speaker training and rehearsals and “choreograph” the event, which included a highly interactive program:
- “Phil Donahue” discussions: Event presenters walked into the audience to ask kids their opinions and ideas.
- Small group discussions: Participants talked with people at their tables about the difference between wants and needs, values, ways to share and save money, celebrity endorsements and role models.
- On-site polling: Throughout the event, we surveyed participants about their experiences and attitudes and immediately displayed the results.
- Panel: A panel of kids ages 12-14 watched and analyzed television commercials aimed at children.
- Handout materials: Participants received a workbook (with further information and exercises to do after the event), a voice recorder key chain/picture frame (so they could record their “money message”), a Your Money, Your Message magnet (that breaks into words so kids can form phrases and sentences), a resource list, key facts mentioned in the event content and a Your Money, Your Message pen.
- A trivia show, similar to what you see at a movie theater, was used as people entered the event, and included pop culture information as well as statistics about advertising and consumer behavior.
- An attention-grabbing video was produced to set the tone at the beginning of each event. A second solutions-oriented version was shown at the end of the event.
- A light show with funky music was used to transition between event segments.
- A computerized, multi-media slide show template was created. It was then customized with digital photographs taken on-site and shown at the conclusion of each event.
- Event materials were created with a coordinated “look,” including signature photos to represent kids in the target audience, that was used on the invitations, posters, event stage and set, handout materials, presenters’ PowerPoint presentations and the multi-media digital slide show.
RESEARCH AND EVALUATION
Electronic on-site polling surveyed participants’ experiences and attitudes with results immediately displayed.
An evaluation form collected both qualitative and quantitative information about the effectiveness of the events.
Quantitative results from written evaluations:
- 87% of kids said the event did a good job of making them aware of different ways people try to influence how they use their money.
- 76% of kids said the event did a good job of giving them a better understanding of how their faith can guide their attitudes and actions about money.
These findings are consistent with the planning objectives to demonstrate the influences on kids’ attitudes and behaviors about money and to encourage kids to let their faith and values guide their attitudes and actions about money.
- 71% of kids say that they don’t always get straight answers about money from adults.
- 68% of kids said they want to learn more about this topic.
This finding is consistent with Lutheran Brotherhood’s premise that such events are necessary.
Qualitative results (from the evaluation question, “What one thing will you do differently after this event?”):
- “I won’t fall for what TV and other things are trying to get you to do.”
- “I’ll spend my money wisely and not be so easily influenced by commercials.”
- “I’ll watch commercials closer for how they try to put you down if you don’t buy their products (I won’t fall for it).”
- “I’ll try to think if I really need something or do I want it because it looks cool.”
These findings are consistent with the planning objectives to show the importance of being aware of influences and to encourage kids to let their faith and values guide their attitudes and actions about money.