Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Today is the First Day of Kmart's Marketing Assault on Children

Later today, Alloy Media + Marketing, will launch First Day, its latest web series for children and teens on the Internet channel AlloyTV. An Alloy press release suggests the show will have it all – if by all you mean the full gamut of troubling trends in youth marketing.

Because First Day will air on the web instead of a traditional television channel, the FCC’s rules that dictate strict separation of commercial content and programming matter do not apply. That means that, unlike children’s television shows, First Day can feature product placement. That’s where Kmart comes in. Not only will the characters wear Kmart’s back-to-school fashions (Dream Out Loud by Selena Gomez, Rebecca Bonbon and Bongo), but Kmart actually helped create the script for First Day, so expect the clothes to play a prominent role in the show’s narrative. And if you’re creating a Kmart infomercial, why stop there?
First Day will also feature a unique retail component in each episode. Kmart will "hotspot" its fashions throughout the series, enabling viewers to buy the inspired looks worn by the lead characters by means of a direct link to the products on the Kmart website.
When they click through to the Kmart website, what will they find? Perhaps images like these that are being used to promote the same Bongo line in Seventeen magazine and Teen Vogue, two publications whose readers skew younger than their titles imply:

Or this ad that touts Bongo’s junior line for “back to school” at Kmart’s parent company, Sears:

It’s as if Kmart designed their back-to-school campaign using the exploitative marketers’ handbook. Use sex to sell tween girls on clothes. Create “branded entertainment” so that children won’t realize they’re really watching ads. Use interactive technology so that kids can click right from the “program” they’re watching to the checkout line. Add a viral component so that children’s friendships are commercialized; Kmart is offering applications for kids to upload to their phones so they can tweet their purchases to their friends.

And of course, promote your brand in schools. Kmart is also advertising its fall fashions on Alloy’s controversial in-school television network, Channel One. For students in the 8,000 schools with Channel One, viewing Kmart’s ads will be a compulsory part of the school day. That’s right – Kmart will be using class time paid for by your tax dollars to promote its clothing to a captive audience of students.

Kmart clearly believes that its provocative marketing strategy will result in more sales, but I’m not so sure. There are a growing number of parents who are saying, “if you want my business, treat me and my children with respect.” That’s a lesson that Kmart clearly hasn’t learned. Maybe we need to teach them that this fall.


  1. This is absolutely criminal.

  2. This literally makes me sick.

  3. OK, let's push them not to do this. But I bought ALL my school supplies at Kmart n/c in my little rural town the only alternative is Wal-Mart, which I believe is way worse for society and children. Sears/K-mart allows unions, doesnt force its workers onto public welfare rolls for health care and other benefits, and doesnt destroy rural communities the way Wal-MArt does. I don't let my third grader watch online shows like Alloy TV so I wouldnt have known about it. We are pretty loyal K-mart shoppers for stuff we can't get online or in the few small stores we do have. And then people around here ask me "Why didnt you buy school supplies at Wal-Mart! It's so much cheaper than K-Mart."

    So yes, pressure on K-Mart to change is welcome. But they're just not the worst out there.

  4. Go K-Mart we love you, shut up people, wal-marts going to take over the world and your childs minds. Channel One has a lot of advertisements on there, so what its 15 minutes out of a kids day where they can just relax half of them aren't watching it anyway, and instead are texting on the cell phones you "parent's" have provided them. If you think they're not seeing worse on the web or on their school computers you are sadly mistaken. K-Mart is not to blame for any of this, it's our society and bad parenting going on out there.
    Not to mention the Bongo line is for teens and college students not tweens. Let's try and get your facts straight people before posting some bogus article.