Earlier this week, I wrote about my concerns regarding First Day, the new online Kmart infomercial webisode for tweens and teens from Alloy Media and Marketing. Well, the first episode is up and it’s even worse than I predicted. (The second episode is up too, but there’s a limit to my masochism).
The takeaway? Pick your outfits carefully for the first day of school because:
First day of school determines who you’re gonna be friends with, which determines if a guy is gonna like you which determines if you’ll ever be kissed, because after awhile you build it up and you get all nervous, until you’re 25 and totally unkissable.
Pretty subtle message for a program developed by Kmart to promote its back-to-school clothes.
The show is only 9-minutes and takes place over the course of a single day, but there are still plenty of outfit changes. In fact, the plot consists of little more than a series of mishaps that force the main character to change her clothes after they’ve been soiled. As new outfits are introduced, they flash on a sidebar next to the episode, complete with links to Kmart where young viewers can purchase the items right away.
The entire premise is inherently deceptive. There’s no disclosure that Kmart actually helped write the script, just a credit that says “Styled by Kmart” that flashes on screen before the show starts. If kids knew they were about to tune into a 9-minute commercial, they’d most likely click somewhere else. That’s why Alloy has to pretend that First Day is something more than an ad.
In addition to all the marketing, the show is pretty vile. Amy Jussel of ShapingYouth.org calls First Day “classic online product placement meets mean girl drek.” She breaks down the show a lot more thoroughly than I’m able to (she’s got a sharper eye and a stronger stomach) and I highly recommend her take.
The unholy alliance between Kmart and Alloy is not, however, limited to First Day. Kmart is also promoting its Bongo jeans at Alloy’s Teen.com website, a site that is regularly advertised in classrooms on Alloy’s Channel One. As with First Day, Kmart and Alloy disguise their Bongo advertising as something else – in this case, a “behind the scenes” of a photo shoot with Bongo model (and star of The Hills) Audrina Patridge. Because the “behind the scenes” is one of several rotating ads on Teen.com and may not appear when you click on this link, I’m including a transcript and some screen shots below:
Hi this is Audrina Patridge and I’m taking you behind the scenes on my Bongo shoot. We were shooting the Bongo campaign for this fall and it was really fun and exciting.
The concept behind the Bongo shoot today was very flirty, sexy, pin-up style a little bit. Bongo’s a great brand for going back to school because it’s affordable and it’s stylish.
There’s some really cute striped tops that tied in the back that I loved. All the jeans fit really nice and comfortable and you feel like you look like you have a cute butt.
To sum up:
- Alloy and Kmart have teamed up for a series of deceptive 9-minute infomercials for teens and tweens to sell back-to-school clothes.
- Kmart is using a “very flirty, sexy, pin-up style” to market its junior line so girls can “have a cute butt”.
- Channel One is promoting Teen.com, which features ads like the one described above, to a captive audience of students in nearly 8,000 schools around the country. If you live in a school district with Channel One, your tax-dollars are being used to encourage kids to visit Teen.com where they'll watch ads that celebrate the "sexy, pin-up style."
So what can we do?
First, find out if your child’s school has Channel One. If they do, show your administrators this blog post and ask them to pull the plug. If they don’t, thank them and show them this blog post in case they are ever tempted to consider it.
And if you’re appalled by Kmart’s decision to sexualize children and commercialize classrooms (remember, they are advertising directly on Channel One, too), let them know. Kmart’s chief marketing officer Mark Snyder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More on Alloy and Kmart::
Today is the First Day of Kmart's Marketing Assault on Children: http://commercialfreechildhood.blogspot.com/2010/08/today-is-first-day-of-kmarts-marketing.html
Everything you ever wanted to know about Channel One from Obliation, Inc.: http://www.obligation.org/category/alloy-channel-one-news.
Toxic Teen Messaging In A K-Mart/Alloy Episodic: The First Day by Amy Jussel: http://www.shapingyouth.org/?p=11984.
Kmart targets teens online, via Alloy Media Digital Marketing: Time for FTC & Congress to Protect Adolescent Consumers, inc. Privacy by Jeff Chester: http://www.democraticmedia.org/jcblog/?p=997.