Genuinely Responsible Marketing: Brands can help boost awareness of popular trends that are risky for teens


Have you already heard about “planking” or the “cinnamon challenge”?

These quirky and potentially dangerous trends went viral on the Internet and are especially popular among teens.

Originating in France as an artistic gesture, ‘planking’ as we know it took on its present day form thanks to two British teens in 2006. They uploaded their adventures to Facebook, and instead of their stunts being quickly forgotten, they quickly went viral. If you do a YouTube search for planking” you get at least 205,000 results and the most popular have 4.8 million views.

Wikipedia defines it as “an activity consisting of lying face down — sometimes in an unusual or incongruous location. Both hands must touch the sides of the body. Some players compete to find the most unusual and original location in which to play. The term planking refers to mimicking a wooden plank. Planking can include lying flat on a flat surface, or holding the body flat while it’s supported in only some regions, with other parts of the body suspended.”

The objective of the cinnamon challenge, according to Wikipedia, “is to film oneself swallowing a spoonful of ground cinnamon in under 60 seconds without drinking anything, then upload the video to the Internet. The challenge is extremely difficult and carries substantial health risks because the cinnamon coats and dries the mouth and throat, resulting in coughing, gagging, vomiting and inhaling of cinnamon, leading to throat irritation, breathing difficulties, and risk of pneumonia.”

Planking has led to numerous injuries, and one death was recorded. A high-school student in Michigan spent four days in a hospital after attempting the cinnamon challenge.

I must admit that some of the YouTube videos are hilarious. No wonder they are so popular. The most popular cinnamon challenge video on YouTube has more than 35 million views! (Watch it). The problem, as always in these kinds of trends, is that it becomes a competition to produce the most funny or dangerous scenario. And the part of the population that is the most at risk, are teenagers. The teenage brain, as I have already explained in previous blog posts, doesn’t function like adult brains. They are not armed with the maturity to control impulses and perceive risk. They are at an age where exploration is key, and perception of danger is low. This literally leads them, sometimes, to, put their lives at risk without even having a clue. Every parent of a teenager can testify to this truth.

The goal, then, is not to forbid teens to have fun with these kinds of things, but for parents and educators to be aware of these phenomena and open a dialogue with them. Never ever reprimand a teen for enjoying these kinds of fads (which, as an adult, you may consider to be ridiculous). You would cut communication with your teen right away, because afterwards it would be nearly impossible to reconnect. Stay open minded, encourage them to have fun, but warn them of the dangers. If they think that you understand and respect them, theyll be much more open to listening and trusting that your concern is their well-being.

Brands can and must play a role in education and prevention. They have the budget and the power to make a difference. That is an opportunity for them to prove their cool factor showing they know tween and teen trends, and have fun with them. But they also know more than kids and warn them in a cool way: this would be genuinely “cool” and responsible marketing. 

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One Comment on “Genuinely Responsible Marketing: Brands can help boost awareness of popular trends that are risky for teens”

  1. stop creating explainer videos Says:

    WOW just what I was looking for. Came here by searching for background music for explainer videos


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