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Privacy protection included in teen marketing guidelines

TORONTO - Teens, neither children nor mature adults, fall into a gray area for marketers, says the Canadian Marketing Association. As a result the organization have unveiled their first guidelines for marketing to teens, which are expected to act as a Code of Ethics for businesses in dealing with areas such as marketing techniques and parental consent when selling to teenagers.

The new guidelines, which define a teen as anyone over the age of 13 up to the age of majority, require marketers to

  • acknowledge that some marketing techniques are not appropriate when marketing to teenager
  • use discretion and sensitivity in marketing to teenagers, to address the age, knowledge, sophistication and maturity of teenagers
  • not use sex and violence outside of industry and community expectations
  • not unduly exploit teenagers' impressionability, or susceptibility to peer or social pressures. In addition, marketers shall not imply that possession or use of a product or service will make its owner superior to others, or that without it the individual will be open to ridicule or contempt.
  • not encourage teens to make major purchasing decisions without parental permission

In addition, the guidelines address the collection of information from teens.

  • to not use teens to use or collect household or personal information as a means of getting access to the rest of their household
  • for a teen under 16, to not disclose contact information to a third party without the express consent of the parent or guardian

These new guidelines are being viewed as a natural progression out of earlier directives set out for children under the age of 13, says Ed Cartwright, Communications Director for the CMA. Cartwright also points out that with more teen business being done on the Internet, regulations surrounding the consent and language of this marketing needed to be set.

While these guidelines are currently self-regulatory, CMA members will be required to follow them as of January 1, 2003. Failure to do so will result in a loss of membership.

For a more detailed look at these new guidelines go to

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