For a generation that seems to talk more than any before it, it might seem that tweens and teens don't have any trouble telling each other what's on their mind. But three brands/organizations have tapped into teens inclination to talk to elevate the dialogue around important issues that society often gives the silent treatment. Along the way, these three brands/organizations remind us that talk doesn't just make sense, but it can also make a difference.
- In a bold move, Kotex bucked the conventions of a category that communicated in whispers, and encouraged girls to shout - about their period! Rather than positioning the brand as a secret protector, the brand gives girls the courage to confide. Instead of romanticizing menstruation, Kotex got real. But perhaps the brand's smartest move was connecting to a cause that is organic (also the name of the agency behind this compelling campaign) to the brand. By giving girls access to frank and helpful information about their periods and other aspects of women's health, Kotex might just inspire a generation of girls to gain the confidence they need to take control, and take care, of their bodies.
- MTV's Thin Line pro-social initiative shows the brand's willingness to harness its hold on youth to inspire them to not only watch and surf, but to think and act. Through TV ads, dedicated space on their website and even documentaries about topics ranging from sexting to cyber bullying (or digital harassment), the brand engages teens in thoughtful dialogue about all forms of Internet abuse. Like Kotex, MTV speaks about the nuanced issues that really matter to teen (for example, is a significant other checking your voicemails, text messages or email messages, an early indicator of controlling - and potentially dangerous - behavior?), and they do so in a voice that doesn't reprimand or victimize, but that treats teens like agents for change.
- Finally, nonprofit To Write Love on Her Arms not only talks about a traditionally taboo topic, teen suicide, but, more importantly, lets teens talk to each other. While their message is one of hope, it comes from a voice that seems to understand the real and sometimes rough world that teens are trying to survive. The site's secret: letting teens share their stories and feel like they're really being listened to.
For anyone sending messages to kids, tweens and teens, these brands remind us to not only talk, but to actively work to change the conversation about topics that are truly life and death matters in the lives of today's youth. And they teach us that getting tweens and teens to talk back might be the most important cause of all.