Have we lost our ethics in marketing?
What if I told you that I came across these images in a magazine that was called “Playtime with Sexy Kids”? You’d bounce. You’d send me hate mail. You’d probably want to scream and break things.
The truth is these images come from catalogues for children’s clothes and other advertising channels. So, I guess that’s ok? After all, it’s only a marketing campaign.
It’s one thing to create a controversial campaign, it’s another to throw your ethics out of the window.
We have a responsibility as marketers, according the the American Marketing Association to “Recognize our special commitments to vulnerable market segments such as children, seniors, the economically impoverished, market illiterates and others who may be substantially disadvantaged.”
So where are those commitments exactly?
Children are vulnerable. Children cannot process abstract concepts such as “informed consent” when it comes to adult themes.
Sultry poses, alluring gazes, poses which are overtly sexual and suggestive are totally inappropriate for children.
The line between marketing children’s clothes and the unspeakable representation of children is becoming harder to see.
Thylane Blondeau who appeared in French Vogue at Christmas is just 10 years old.
Her pose, her make up, the setting of the photo are entirely inappropriate for a child. The part that confuses me is who would look at this image and respond positively to the products being modelled? Louboutains on a 10 year old?
Playing with words does not make it ok
The laws on child pornography are quite clear:
Under federal law (18 U.S.C. §2256), child pornography is defined as any visual depiction, including any photograph, film, video, picture, or computer or computer-generated image or picture, whether made or produced by electronic, mechanical, or other means, of sexually explicit conduct, where:
- the production of the visual depiction involves the use of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct; or
- the visual depiction is a digital image, computer image, or computer-generated image that is, or is indistinguishable from, that of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct; or
- the visual depiction has been created, adapted, or modified to appear that an identifiable minor is engaging in sexually explicit conduct.
Personally I see no difference. Celebrating Lolita, creating paedophile fodder and calling it advertising is totally unethical in my mind.
HOW are brands allowed to advertise in such a sexually explicit way? Should there be controls in place?
As Marketers, as consumers and as humans we have a responsibility to protect the vulnerable. Or do we?