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Reading, Writing & Tampax?

Over at Ypulse, I’m a fairly vocal critic of marketing to kids or teens in schools. Call me a radical, but I believe that the Chinese wall that exists between editorial and advertising in media should also exist between marketing and education in schools.

Over at Ypulse, I’m a fairly vocal critic of marketing to kids or teens in schools. Call me a radical, but I believe that the Chinese wall that exists between editorial and advertising in media should also exist between marketing and education in schools. I’ve posted about how I think Channel One should become a non-profit and about advertising on schoolbuses and in high school newspapers. This generation of youth has been marketed to more than any other — they are “branded” as is almost all of the media and entertainment they consume.

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At the same time, I believe that companies can and should play a role in supporting our terribly under-funded public education system. So when I read this article in Brand Week about P&G’s promotional program for Tampax where they send reps into schools to talk to girls about puberty and hygiene to girls, I thought, “Wow. Important topic. One P&G should support, just not in this way.” What way do I mean?

From the article:

“In June, a P&G representative was invited by a parent coordinator to the public school as part of a Tampax-sponsored national program for middle school girls called “Feeling Good: More about you.”

A group of about 120 seventh grade girls sat in the auditorium at Sunset Park Prep and listened to a P&G rep talk about puberty and periods. At the end of it, the girls were given gift bags that included samples of Tampax tampons and Always sanitary pads, according to the company and teachers who were present.

For P&G, the visit was just one part of a nationwide brand-promotion strategy for seventh graders that the company has been running since buying the Tampax brand in the late 1990s. The program reached 400,000 girls last year, the company said.”

Here’s how I think P&G could do this the right way:

1. Partner with a respected institution that works on girls health issues, like say the Guttmacher Institute or the Kaiser Foundation.

2. Hire an amazing writer/editor, ideally one who has worked at a successful teen magazine (there should be a lot of these types floating around looking for work with the shut down of Teen People and Elle Girl). Have them to put together a really cool, accessible girls health curriculum that looks and feels like a cool teen mag but is NOT branded.

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3. Work with the school’s health teachers (or if they happen to also be the football coach go outside to find a great health educator) to lead this workshop.

4. Finally, on the bottom of every page or at the beginning and end, add copy that says, to find this information and more online, check out Beinggirl.com, the proud sponsor of whatever the catchy name of this eduzine is.

That’s subtle yet authentic, adding value and supporting important work that doesn’t cross the line.

Thanks Fast Company. I’ve had fun jamming with you.

Anastasia