WFA launches Media Smart World to create synergies between media literacy programmes


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The World Federation of Advertisers has set up Media Smart World, a platform designed to support existing national media literacy programmes. Media Smart is an initiative driven by the marketing industry to help teach children to think more critically about advertising.

The WFA's role will be to facilitate a network of existing Media Smart programmes in UK, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Portugal, Greece, Estonia and Hungary which will enable and facilitate the sharing of content, insights and good practice among programme members, help drive its expansion into new markets and build the Media Smart brand. The group will predominantly come together by conference call but plan for one annual face-to-face meeting

Inspired by the Concerned Children's Advertisers in Canada, Media Smart was pioneered by the UK advertisers in 2002. It seeks to empower children with the tools to identify and understand advertising and develop a discerning attitude towards it. The program was aimed at children aged 6-11 by creating and distributing free in-school materials on marketing communications. Initially the programme focused on traditional advertising but has since branched out to deal with digital marketing communications and issues surrounding body image. At its launch, Tessa Jowell, former UK Minister for Culture Minister and Sport, described the initiative as “enlightened self-interest” on the part of the industry.

Since 2002, similar programmes have been implemented across Europe with an estimated four million children having been taught with the materials. Interest has also been shown in US, Mexico, Australia, Indonesia and Brazil and Media Smart World will aim to encourage local coalitions around the world to drive similar initiatives.

The first kick-off meeting took place on 11th July with the participation of Media Smart programme members from France, UK, Portugal, Sweden and Greece. Members agreed that the WFA should coordinate the global initiative in order to support local programmes grow and succeed in their respective markets. A one-page backgrounder was shared as well as a more detailed roadmap. The group also agreed that the WFA should run a basic survey of programmes in order to establish the state of play in existing markets, look into ensuring some rules of thumb in order to ensure brand coherence and that the trade mark is properly respected as well as establishing an online content repository and knowledge exchange platform.

Media Smart is fundamental part of the WFA's strategic vision when it comes to marketing and children. In a media filled world, where brands are ubiquitous, children need to be given the skills to be able to better decipher marketing communications. It is WFA's conviction that the marketing industry has a core strategic interest and stake in promoting and supporting media literacy. Put simply, it helps those brands with innate appeal to children future-proof their license to communicate their offering.

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