Tatum O’Neal was arrested over the weekend for drug possession. In a lame effort to escape the charges, she reportedly asked the arresting officer, “Do you know who I am?”
Yeah, Tatum, we know who you are. We also know Britney and Lindsay, Bridges and Bonaduce. You too Miley Cyrus. Child stars have been big business for a long time, and the Tween marketing phenomenon is only increasing our appetites for them.
Kids Watch Kids
When I saw Tatum O’Neal in the movie Paper Moon, my eyes were glued to the screen. Here, in this boring grown-up movie was a kid. Try this experiment at home sometime with almost any kid: whatever you’re watching, observe what happens to actual children in the room when a child appears on screen. They will stop what they’re doing and focus exclusively on the child star. Now’s the time to sell them anything from deodorant they don’t need yet to tshirts, toys, and candy.
Multi-Billion Dollar ‘Tween
The Tween demographic is defined as children 8 to 13 years. With little to no income of their own they ‘re responsible for hundreds of billions of dollars in consumer spending. Savvy marketers are now consulting 8-year-olds to hone advertising campaigns and serve as ‘peer influencers’ in their communities. (Only alpha girls need apply.)
Tween girls, with their dual loves of spending money and talking are a double jackpot. The Girls Intelligence Agency (GIA), a specialty marketing firm, holds slumber parties, which are essentially focus groups to gather the girls’ opinions and responses to targeted products. It’s deliberate viral marketing cloaked as child’s play. Alpha girl likes headband, tells all her friends, who tell their friends, and so on.
According to GIA, Tweens bought 40% of all movie tickets last year – and over half of those were girls. Which brings me back to Tatum O’Neal, child superstar and adult drug addict. We need kids like her and more of them. We need Tween girls (and guys) on screen to build brands, to seal product placement deals, to speak our catch phrases. We need more – Star Search, Mickey Mouse Club, Drake and Josh, The Jonas Brothers – give us more! Business is business after all.