Dan Clays appointed new Chair of Media Smart

UK advertising’s non-profit education programme, Media Smart, has announced Dan Clays, Chief Executive of Omnicom Media Group in the UK, as its new Chair. He has taken over from Mark Lund, CEO McCann Worldgroup Media, following six years at the helm since the relaunch of the initiative.

Dan has taken on the role of Media Smart Chair at an exciting time for the programme, when its core aim of ensuring young people in the UK can confidently navigate and interpret the media and advertising they consume has never been more vital. Since 2002, with support from its members, Media Smart has created free media and digital literacy resources for teachers, parents and youth organisations working with 7-16-year olds. Over the past five years, its resources have been downloaded across the UK over 68,000 times, directly reaching over half a million young people. This success has continued with resource downloads for the second half of 2019 up by 27% on previous periods.

Past education resources from Media Smart have focused on social media, digital advertising, influencer marketing and body image. Most recently, at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, Media Smart launched a new resource to encourage young people to lead healthier lifestyles setting them the challenge of creating an advert to promote eating more vegetables to their peers. This resource is part of the wider Eat Them To Defeat campaign, which launched in January 2019 and has since seen over 650,000 children eating more vegetables, and 18 million more units of vegetables sold. As of June 2020, there have been 63,000 views of the resource page on the Media Smart website, its Facebook campaign has reached 454,000 users and the resource has been download 270 times, with this figure increasing steadily each week.

Media Smart’s emphasis on online resources has meant that it has been able to navigate the new world of remote teaching quickly and effectively during COVID-19, and has been well placed to support parents, teachers and pupils to keep learning. In April for example, visits to the Media Smart website more than doubled compared to the same time last year – from 10,000 to 26,000 – demonstrating the appetite for the programme’s free teaching materials.

In another marker of Media Smart’s success, it was shortlisted in two categories for The Corporate Engagement Awards – Best Educational Programme and Best Charity, NGO or NFP Programme. Moreover, Media Smart Director, Rachel Barber-Mack, is also a finalist for the 2020 Global Good Individual Leader of the Year for her work on the programme.

Forthcoming projects for Media Smart include campaigns on Piracy, Data and Branded content – all key topics at a time when young people’s digital and media consumption is at a record high.

Commenting on the news, Dan said:

“Media Smart is such an important and increasingly relevant organisation on so many levels and a big part of my role, supporting Rachel, will be for more people in our industry to understand what it provides and how it can be supported. I can’t think of any client, media owner or agency who shouldn’t lean in to find out more. As addressability accelerates and advertising moves well beyond conventional forms, Media Smart provides an invaluable educational resource and guidance for children, parents and teachers to navigate the new media landscape with confidence and safety. “The team also does incredible work spotlighting our industry as a future career choice, particularly for children from schools who might never have imagined it. So for everyone who cares long term about how the industry stays effective and trusted; how it can keep growing audiences safely and provide an exciting career choice for diverse young talent; Media Smart is a brilliant organisation that can be even better known. I’m delighted to be able to support Rachel and the team.”

Media Smart Director, Rachel Barber-Mack, echoed Dan commenting: “We are extremely proud of what Media Smart has achieved since relaunch in 2014, including record resource downloads, a 50% increase in industry supporters, trebling our annual not-for-profit budget and award nominations. I’m delighted that Dan is joining the team as Chair and excited about working with him to take the programme to a whole new level in this next chapter.”

Advertising Association Chief Executive Stephen Woodford welcomed Dan, saying: “I’d like to welcome Dan Clays to his new role as Chair of Media Smart, following in the footsteps of Mark Lund, who has led the initiative superbly over the last six years. Dan is one of the most highly regarded media leaders in the UK and brings a wealth of experience to this new role. Media Smart’s mission of building media literacy among children and young people is a vital part of being a responsible industry and this is the leading initiative, with broad cross-industry support from the leading companies in advertising. With children and young people consuming media like never before, I know Dan is both professionally and personally committed to ensuring that this crucial age group understands how to navigate the media landscape safely and with the confidence that media literacy knowledge brings.”

New creative careers resource for homeschooling

As of Friday 23rd March, most of the schools closed in the UK.  Many teachers and families are now looking at ways they can educate and entertain children at home. We want to let you know about our new teaching resources and remind you about all the other free educational materials we provide.

These are unprecedented time, but at Media Smart, we want to continue to support educators and parents. We have a back catalogue of fantastic resources that you can download or access online absolutely free – they are easy to use and adaptable.

Today, we have launched a brand-new creative careers film resource based on ITV and Veg Power’s Eat Them To Defeat Them campaign, its aim is to encourage healthier eating among secondary school-age children. It takes students behind the scenes of a leading communications agency to help young people understand the advertising creation process while encouraging consideration of a career in advertising.

Television presenter Dr Ranj Singh is also supporting us, by setting a challenge for teenagers to create their own advert. There’s a whole exercise where they can plan their advert out from the idea through to creating it.

The resource pack includes film interviews with the team that created the original Eat Them To Defeat Them campaign, whose mission was to encourage primary age children to eat more vegetables.

Eat Them To Defeat launched in January 2019 and has seen over 650,000 children eating more vegetables and 18 million more units of vegetables sold – enough for an extra portion of vegetables on every family dinner table in the UK for each week of the campaign.

You can access the film, lessons and activities here.

You can also access other primary school and secondary school resources here.

We hope you find them useful and a creative relief during this difficult time! Please do share your photos and advert ideas on Twitter and make sure you tag us @mediasmartuk and add the hashtag #EatThemToDefeatThem.

We will be posting ongoing homeschooling tips and advice on our Twitter and Facebook.

Best wishes

Rachel Barber-Mack
Director of Media Smart

What do we do at Media Smart and why

We recently launched our new body image and advertising resources that focus on boys and the effects of negative body image on young men. These resources (like all our resources) have been created for schools and youth organisations to be used as a lesson, in an assembly or as a workshop. We also provide guides for parents and guardians – which are free to download.

Research shows that over half of girls and a quarter of boys think their peers have body image problems. So now more than ever, it is important that pupils are media literate and able to navigate the world of commercial messaging.

Technology and media are here to stay, so teaching media and digital literacy is crucial for helping children become better, safer and more empowered digital citizens.

An article was recently published in the Washington Post that we thought summed up the need perfectly:

“Between wanting to be informed and the permeating torrent of media, it’s not realistic to shut it out of your child’s life completely. In teaching our kids good digital citizenship, we don’t want to do that anyway. With a little mentorship, we can help fight the incursion of fake news with what always defeats ignorance: knowledge”.

It’s not just about fake news though, it’s also understanding how and when we are being advertised to. Advertising has changed dramatically and there is a need to keep up to date with the latest ways brands are reaching out to consumers. What is an advert, how has it been constructed and why? Research is proving that the more media literate young people are the happier they are about their body image.

Following the launch of our latest resources and our supporting awareness campaign – the Boys’ Biggest Conversation, we thought it would be a good time to reflect and remind you of what we’ve done so far.

Here’s a summary of what Media Smart provides and why, with links to each of the resources available.

1. An Introduction to Advertising for 7-11yrs

These introductory lessons help children understand what an advert is and why they are there. Many young people have never had this explained to them, they may not be able to distinguish between what an advert is and what isn’t. These lessons look at advertising across all mediums from print to digital. It also looks at the creative process behind advertising and there are a number of exercises to spot adverts and design their own.

2. Digital Advertising for 9-11 yrs

These resources delve deeper into digital and social media advertising.

Advertising has evolved considerably, parents and teachers are telling us that they’re finding it hard to keep up to date, and help their children navigate the digital space.

These resources guide you through the different ways advertisers use digital platforms  and why and how they differ. Examples used include social media, gaming, video, celebrities and vloggers, and website search.

3. Social Media & Advertising for 11-16 yrs

Many young people are introduced to social media platforms without any understanding of what they’re actually seeing and why. They don’t know that what they see is determined by their behavior online and what details (including their age) are recorded?

This resource aims to encourage students to think more deeply about the types of social media available to them:

  • The advertising they are exposed to and how to manage it.
  • Their relationship with social media sites, their sponsors and advertisers.
  • The business models that allow them to access a whole range of sophisticated services free, or at very low cost.

4. Body Image & Advertising for 9-11 yrs

These resources look at how we compare ourselves with people in advertising and media and how this can influence our thoughts on body image. They show you how adverts and images can be digitally manipulated to give a different idea of what’s “real” and help children understand how the media might make them feel and why.

5. Body Image & Advertising for 11-14 yrs

All of our resources are gender inclusive, but off the back of Credos research, we thought there was a need to create educational materials that focus on the effects of negative body image on boys (as many are more girl focused). We also created a film called the Boys’ Biggest Conversation with First News and Dr Ranj where we spoke to secondary school boys about the way they felt about their appearance and why….

Boys have the same issues as girls but don’t feel able to talk about it in the same way. The resources look at advertising, digital manipulation and the role social media plays in how you feel about yourself. 

Written by Ruth Gilbey