Yesterday, the AA and Media Smart held a roundtable on Influencer Marketing with a host of leading industry speakers, joined by 60 guests from across advertising, politics, education and the third sector. Media Smart is the industry’s flagship education non-profit with a mission to ensure that every child in the UK, aged 7-16, can confidently navigate the media they consume. With young people growing up in a rapidly changing world full of opportunity and challenge, media literacy and its associated life skills form an important stepping-stone to future employability, citizenship & well-being. A key area where we can see these changes is in Influencer Marketing and the need to help children understand the commercial link between social influencers and the brands they are promoting.
The panel brought together politics, agencies, platforms and influencers. Stephen Woodford (CEO, Advertising Association) took the chair on behalf of the AA, and welcomed Dan Clays (Media Smart Chair and CEO of Omnicom Media Group UK); Stuart Flint (VP, Europe, Sales, TikTok); Tara Hopkins (Head of Public Policy, EMEA, Instagram); Guy Parker (CEO, ASA); Tracy Brabin MP (Shadow Minister for Cultural Industries); and Charlotte Williams (Founder SevenSix Agency & Influencer). As a forum on the role of both industry, regulators and policymakers on the topic of influencer marketing, it focused on steps already taken by the advertising industry to improve young people’s understanding of this form of marketing; the political perspective; and what else industry can do to build better media and digital literacy on this topic. There was consensus that adverts need to be as clear and transparent as possible in social media, so that young people know and understand the paid-for content they are viewing. This is crucial in sensitive areas such as body image and protecting mental health. There was also acknowledgement that COVID-19 and recent movements such as Black lives Matters had shone increased light on this area, with all parts of industry committed to work together to improve children’s knowledge and awareness of influencer marketing and branded content. Media Smart plays a crucial role in making this happen and there was wide appreciation for its innovative and award-winning resource materials which, with assistance from its supporters across industry, are available to schools, parents and youth organisations throughout the country.
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