Kids nix ads’ tricks

Rolling Stone confab: Organic marketing key

NEW YORK — Marketing tricks don’t seem to work when it comes to promoting movies and music to kids. Or that was the consensus at Rolling Stone’s annual youth culture conference in Gotham on Wednesday.

Rather than relying on focus groups and other old-school methods of market research, music, film and Madison Avenue execs said instinct and “organic marketing” were the only ways to reach the youth market.

“You have to go with your gut and say, ‘I don’t care what people are saying in a mall in Pittsburgh,’ ” said Miramax co-chairman Harvey Weinstein during a keynote address.

Antonio “L.A.” Reid, prexy and CEO of Arista Records, said having kids around the office is the key to figuring out what kinds of entertainment will appeal to the youth market. “I keep kids around me at Arista. You can do all the market research, but there’s something very honest with kids. They smell it. I have a 13-year-old working at the office right now, and his real job is to tell me what’s hot.”

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Reid gave the example of Avril Lavigne. Market research for her first single off “Let Go” tested “medium,” Reid said. “But the kids in the office said it was hot, and we went with the kids in the office and the kids turned out to be right.”

If anything, market research, particularly if undisguised, was a sure way to lose the interest of teens, many execs said.

“You don’t want things marketed head-on to kids,” Reid said. “You want them to feel they’ve discovered it.”

In the pursuit of the youth dollar, however, Weinstein noted that it was dangerous to ignore the hip instincts of the baby boomers. “We ignore (those who are 50 and over) at our peril. They want to be cool too and be part of the dialogue. They don’t want to be ignored.”