NIMF attacks WOMMA for "buzzploiting" children and teens
Through an online ad campaign and pressreleases, The National Institute on Media and the Family (NIMF) have called on the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) to revise its Word of Mouth Marketing Code of Ethics to prohibit the exploitation of minors in word of mouth campaigns.
"The National Institute on Media and the Family knows the meaning of 'buzzploitation' -- Internet marketers whispering into children's ears without their parent's permission," said Dr. David Walsh, the Institute's president and founder. "Through our ongoing investigation, we also know children engaged in some word of mouth campaigns are being exposed to inappropriate language and images and may be sharing their personal information with strangers."
For children's safety, Dr. Walsh suggested WOMMA add parental notification/consent to its Word of Mouth Marketing Code of Ethics. "WOMMA is leaving parents in the dark," said Dr. Walsh. "Parents need to know what their children are seeing and doing online. One way to make sure children notify their parents of their involvement in online promotions is to require parental consent. Otherwise, WOMMA provides a 'safe harbor' for marketers who seek to exploit children by allowing their members to hide behind incomplete and imperfect ethical standards."
The Institute also expressed concerns that WOMMA's Word of Mouth 101 - An Introduction to Word of Mouth Marketing, which includes a section on Unethical Word of Mouth Marketing Strategies, does not mention the use of minors in word of mouth campaigns.
"No one would deny that putting children at risk is an unethical business practice and should be identified as such by the word of mouth marketing industry," said Dr. Walsh. "WOMMA needs to make clear to its members that exploitation of children is an unethical business practice and will not be tolerated."
Last fall, the Institute asked one of the founding companies of WOMMA, BzzAgent, to address its policy of suggesting to their "agents" that they be "discreet" in telling friends and family members what they are doing as an "agent" for the marketer. After assurances from BzzAgent that their policy would change, the Institute has found that the company continues to mail welcoming packages to new "agents" with the exact same suggestions on using discretion when it comes to telling others about their relationship to the marketer.
"It is shameful WOMMA seeks to market itself in its Word of Mouth 101 with self-aggrandizing statements akin to 'we're the good guys committed to protecting consumers with strong ethical guidelines' when, in practice, it turns a blind eye to the unethical practices of its own members," added Steve Collins, President and CEO of Martin|Williams, a Minneapolis-based advertising firm. "Turning that blind eye is not only beyond cynical; it poses a real threat to both parents and minors."
Please donate to keep adland alive. The Super Bowl Collection is the worlds one and only. It costs a minor fortune to keep up. If you love our efforts, please donate to keep the archive alive. You may also sponsor us with a large banner, advertise yourself as you help save our common advertising history.
Want to join adland?
Create an adgrunt account for 6 USD.
- AntDude! *highfives*
23 min 46 sec ago
- I think the "phase" market is
30 min 33 sec ago
- Red Robin completely missed
2 hours 8 min ago
- Let's see Peter Norton.
5 hours 19 min ago
5 hours 31 min ago
- Holy guy cave Batman, I am
6 hours 59 min ago
- Ooh, you know what he's doing
9 hours 34 min ago
- The ASCII doesn't work quite
9 hours 53 min ago
9 hours 58 min ago
- Definitely feel the pain of
10 hours 16 min ago