Parents for Ethical Marketing: The Role In Shaping Youth

The name alone is a winner. “Parents For Ethical Marketing.” It’s universal, inclusive, and makes my name generation synapses smile (metaphorically, grammarians; hold the e-mails).

When PEM founder Lisa Ray (formerly of the incisive, razor-sharp blog, Two Knives) approached me about her desire to start an organization to encourage corporate ethics in adopting responsible marketing standards toward kids, I remember my somewhat incredulous reply, “um…Lisa? That’s what WE do here at Shaping Youth.”

“Not really,” she clarified, “You don’t get involved in the policy end and all that, do you?” True, true. PEM deals with legislative initiatives and public pressure, whereas Shaping Youth tends to focus on counter-marketing to youth and educators directly, using media itself as the distribution channel.

Thankfully, our fledgling nonprofit orgs complement rather than duplicate, with different project scopes, programs and methodology. BOTH have managed to grow in leaps and bounds without outside funding…Lisa simply beat me to ‘the ask’ for next tier expansion, so in true camaraderie mode, I’m going to ask our readership to support HER fundraising campaign in the hopes she’ll do the same for mine when I finally get around to it in the year ahead! (and I WILL, board members, I promise!)

I realize a or PayPal style donor button like PEM’s support page should’ve been “the first item I placed on the sidebar of Shaping Youth” but alas, my passionista ‘dive right in’ personality catapulted me into full tilt program testing without waving the white flag for donations to keep the lights on…

But I must say, powering forth in ‘if you build it they will come’ mode has served me well to keep our blog actively ‘seeding content’ to explain what Shaping Youth is about, and for finding like-minded folks of all ages coming out of the crevices and surfacing with support which validates both the need and the vision of what PEM and Shaping Youth are up to!

Though I have no regrets in the wacky reverse-order of Shaping Youth’s rise, (except perhaps my home equity loan being leveraged a bit too heavily to make this vision come true) I dare say Lisa’s way is less stressful and more manageable on the media front, since I’m usually in ‘tmi’ deluge in dire need of human capital to clone myself and be many places at once to leverage these opportunities! (interns, volunteers, students seeking service credit, please ping me! S.O.S!)

For the record, I knew PEM would end up being a favorite of mine, as her blog Corporate Babysitter was in my reader since its inception, and her wit and wisdom cuts through the clutter with humorous style, always making me feel less alone in this fight for the hearts and minds of youth.

Needless to say, we’re fans of each other’s work and even share overlap in advisory board presence coming out of Tufts University applied sciences, which shouldn’t surprise since we both focus on the pragmatics of placing public health over profiteering. (In the mututal admiration club, Sarah Sobieraj, who teaches Media & Society at Tufts is on PEM’s advisory board, and S.Y.’s specialist in body image, Dr. Robyn Silverman also hails from Tufts!)

As one who heartily embraces collaboration and open-source data sharing rather than splintered and segmented nonprofit fiefdoms, know that we’re all working on creating centralized social media hubs where our advisory boards and readerships can cross-pollinate in participatory learning to share research, outcomes, and best practices while still keeping the purity of our individual organization’s missions and vision!

So how do Shaping Youth and PEM both define ‘ethical marketing? PEM’s site explains this succinctly:

·    Ethical marketing targets only consumers who can perceive and understand the persuasive tactics in commercials.

·    Ethical marketing promotes products that are not harmful to children.

·    Ethical marketing supports strong families by respecting parental authority in the parent-child relationship.

Not so hard to grok, is it? Seems fair, even among industry colleagues, yes?

How does PEM differ in mission, vision, and execution with Shaping Youth?

  • Shaping Youth deals directly with the ‘end user’—counter-marketing and media literacy analysis to ‘lift and reveal’ unhealthy messages served to kids in each of our enrichment sessions, PEM is corralling forces in the parenting arena to sound off at the policy level, as a watchdog and legislative advocacy org.
  • Shaping Youth is infiltrating the media channels from the inside out, championing producers of meaningful content and embedding positive cues within the media, whereas PEM uses the strength of parents’ voices themselves to inspire action.
  • Shaping Youth is collaborating with youth advisors to strategize and explore ways to influence with peer to peer viral marketing, and also uses a child-empowerment model to ‘sell up’ behavioral change into familial environs…Much like this Cool the Earth program brings the message home, kids and peers impart the message to adults, flipping the ‘pester power’ in reverse, cutting off the desire at the source and shifting purchasing power accordingly.
  • PEM’s focus on red flagging corporate practices, ‘ad creep,’ and harmful cues tossed into the family sphere, helps Shaping Youth zero in on which products and companies are really blitzing kids so we know where to focus our counter-marketing to create the most reverb, via blog, film and enrichment programs in ‘train the trainer’ format.

In short, we complement rather than duplicate…

Shaping Youth is coming at it from the inside out using the same entertainment tactics and techniques of industry insiders skilled in persuasion and motivation to flip harmful messages into productive pursuits.

PEM is raising awareness and shielding kids from corporate exploitation through legislation and public pressure…BOTH orgs are are out to ‘rewire’ the power of media and marketing to shift the energy in a positive direction, providing kids a healthier worldview.

PEM points out that a marketer will drop $4,000 for access to data of children’s financial profiles and spending patterns; and spend $1.4 billion per month – marketing to children.

It’s blatantly obvious to me that we need as much “skin in the game” as we can muster to fight fire with fire for awareness, influence and advocacy on behalf of the health and well-being of children.

Parents for Ethical Marketing (PEM) is running their fundraising drive through Thanksgiving, but as we all know, it’s a year-round appeal.

PEM is hoping for $10,000 (which is what our Age of Conversation book made for Variety, the Children’s Charity in 60 days, so there’s precedent here, folks!)

And fyi, our second edition of our probono global blogger book, “The Age of Conversation, Why Don’t They Get it?is about to be released on Oct. 29th with a goal of $15K to do it AGAIN on behalf of the kids!(yes, one of these days I’m going to use social media for Shaping Youth cause-marketing, honest, I’m not independently wealthy, just passionate about great causes!) Anyway, meanwhile:

THIS Halloween week, please open the door (and your wallet) to Parents for Ethical Marketing and give thanks for her existence as a ‘treat’ in this marketing world of ‘tricks.’

I hope you’ll plop a little something sweet in her bag!!!

I’ve given Shaping Youth until the New Year to shore up the flanks of our infra-structure before you’ll hear the donor doorbell ring from me, so give freely to PEM this season…

And know I’m right behind her. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Thanks so much for all you do for kids.

Again, here’s her Parents for Ethical Marketing donor site at!

Happy Halloween…keep those wee ones safe from any werewolfs or blood-sucking vampires akin to corporate greed. heehee. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Visual Credit for bag graphic above: Kansas City Public Library, which is worth a peek for the “Great Books to read in October” post for all ghouls and goblins shown here!



  1. Whoa, Amy, I am touched. As usual, you’ve gone all out! Thank you so much for taking the time and energy to write this post and endorsement for PEM. You are right on with your distinction about how we differ and complement one another.

    Fundraising is slow going these days — probably the worst time in history to start up a campaign — but folks should know that every little bit (and I mean $5) helps!

    Thanks again!

  2. Well, Lisa, I’ll add an 0 to that 5 and see if we can at least boost precedent a bit. But you’re right…as one who made a mini-grant go a looooooooooong way, we do what we do on what we can do it on! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Logging into now. (need to set up a profile there, thus the lag) Good Luck!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

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