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March, 2010:

Shank: making a point

The shocking events at London’s Victoria station last Thursday, when a teenager was murdered by a large group of youths appearing to be a school gang, shows that the level of knife crime among young people is clearly as rife as ever.

The government and charities have been very forward thinking and established several anti-knife and anti-violence initiatives, with sites like and offering young people places to seek help and advice.  Both were promoted through the Ten Nine networks of secondary schools and youth centres to place the messages directly into young people’s minds, using posters and clings.  The launch of the government campaign focusing on abuse in teenage relationships was also communicated direct to its 13-18 year old target audience with posters and postcards in youth centres and schools.

Stop, Look, Listen

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is updating its guidelines on green claims in advertising and has published a checklist that all marketing claims to environmental responsibility should follow.  Any attempts to promote goods or services as being environmentally friendly should be “clear, accurate, relevant and verifiable”.  Not a million miles from the long-standing guidelines that all advertising should be “legal, decent, honest and truthful”.  But that’s no bad thing; imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, after all!

CAP launches new UK Advertising Codes

On the 16th March the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) launched new UK Advertising Codes after a comprehensive review and full public consultation.

This was the first ever concurrent review of all advertising codes in nearly fifty years of their history and more than 400 pieces of legislation and 30,000 consultation responses were assessed. Participants were derived from a broad range of stakeholders including Government, parents and children’s groups, consumer protection bodies, regulators, charities, religious organisations as well as the media industry.  The new codes will come into force on 1st September 2010 giving advertisers and the media industry nearly six months to familiarise themselves with the new rules.

Giving Science a Rocket

With the General Election only a matter of a month or so away, I’m looking forward to familiar pledges from all the parties, particularly on ‘education, education, education’ (which I’m sure I’ve heard somewhere before…)

Official statistics are bandied about to show that universities are attracting more applicants than ever before, which sounds great, but the suggestion that students may be choosing subjects that are perceived as more enjoyable or maybe even the ‘course of least resistance’ in order to obtain a degree refuses to go away.  So while I’m sure Media Studies has some relevance to this industry, it’s hardly rocket science is it?  Now there’s that crucial word: Rocket!  No, sorry: Science!

Translating internet activism to the ballot box

With general election expectation mounting, I am intrigued about the people voting for the first time, those in the 18-24 demographic. Many of this group will have recently left secondary education where Citizenship is taught and given growing importance, and some may still attend a youth club.

Most people are aware that the numbers of those voting in elections has been declining and as a democracy this is something that should concern us. The turnout in 2001 was the lowest since the post war election in 1918, with only 59% of those registered voting compared to 76% in 1979. More alarming still, just 46% of young women aged 18-24 cast their vote. Trends show that people under 34 years of age are less likely to vote than older people and there is real concern that lack of engagement with the political process will spread progressively through the electorate as this group ages.

Insider trading

The recent article in the Daily Mail about secret teenage brand ambassadors is a good example of how not to go about youth media.  It looks at Dubit, a company which uses teenagers as brand “insiders” to promote its clients’ products.

A key point of responsible communications with young people is that they be transparent and accountable; Head teachers should be aware of any promotions that are being run in their schools and should be able to veto anything with which they are not entirely comfortable.