Mobile Phone Company advises Industry not to target Children for Cell Phone Sales

Congratulations to Virgin Mobile for breaking ranks with the following announcement. I think it should be 18 not 10 but at least its a beginning in real corporate social responsibility. Motorola's 'damage control' spin doctors, Swicord/Joyner/Elder, will probably be frantically ringing Sir Richard Branson's office to offer a free powerpoint presention on why its okay to sell the phones to kiddies.
See: http://www.emfacts.com/papers/corporate_risk.pdf

A close friend of Branson died of a brain tumour and Branson publicly put it down to most likely his mobile phone use so I would be surprised to see a reversal in Virgin Mobile's public stand.

Also see: http://www.emfacts.com/papers/children_mobiles.pdf

Please widely circulate this message.

Don Maisch


We won't sell to under-10s: phone firm

By Julian Lee, Marketing Reporter

December 9, 2004

Virgin Mobile has broken ranks with the $11 billion mobile phone industry by vowing not to target children younger than 10 in its marketing.

It puts pressure on other operators, in particular Telstra and Optus, to forgo pester power - the way children push parents to buy products.

Telstra, the market leader in mobile phones, is still assessing plans to develop a mobile phone for children as young as five as a way for security-conscious parents to keep track of them.

The plan is part of Telstra's push to grab a larger share of the population using mobile phones by making children familiar with them.

Nearly three-quarters of adults have a mobile phone but only 30 per cent of children aged between 10 and 13 have them, research by Roy Morgan shows.

Children's handsets would have larger buttons and numbers programmed for home or school. They would carry tracking devices and be brightly coloured or shaped like cartoon characters.

Telstra and Optus continue to market their products to children in their early teens through programs such as Australian Idol and teen

In Britain, where a third of children aged between 10 and 14 have mobiles, phone companies were asked to adopt guidelines on marketing to children after a report highlighted possible health risks, but many have ignored them. No such guidelines exist in Australia, where operators are free to market their plans to children, even though most are unable to open a line of credit for a phone contract. To get around this, most companies now push pre-paid phone plans.

Virgin Mobile's brand director, Andy Mallinson, told an advertising summit this week: "I'd advocate that your 10-year-old does not have a mobile. It should be used by people who understand the value of what they have in their hand."

Yesterday he added: "It's very worrying when companies such as Telstra are offering a phone, or rather a cut-down version of it, to children under 10. We feel we have a social responsibility to not market phones to them."

Vodafone says its guidelines forbid it from marketing to anyone under the age of 16.

Last night, the Communications Minister, Helen Coonan, said: "I urge all telecommunications companies to take a responsible attitude towards marketing their products to young people, particularly young children."


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Dezember 2004

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