Media Smart

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Media Smart is an organisation funded by fast-food, media and toy industries. Its website states it is a:

non profit media literacy programme for school children aged 6 to 11 years old, focused on advertising. Media Smart develops and provides, free of charge and on request, educational materials to primary schools that teach children to think critically about advertising in the context of their daily lives. Our materials use real examples of advertising to teach core media literacy skills. Media Smart is funded by the advertising business in the UK and is supported by the UK and EU governments....In the UK, it is one of the only media literacy programmes in which Ofcom plays an active role. Media Smart plays a key role in developing significantly young people’s understanding and constructive use of modern media, including its advertising content. It is an important contributor to building a media literate society in the UK." [1]

History and Origins of Media Smart

The roots for Media Smart are seen in the Concerned Children's Advertisers organisation founded in Canada, [2] which is also funded by transnational corporations. [3] [4]

Media Smart is based on a model developed by Canadian advertisers in the late 1980s called Concerned Children's Advertisers (CCA). Backed by giants such as Coca-Cola, Hershey and Buena Vista, the $10m CCA programme now claims huge success in cutting concern about children's marketing over there. "The Canadians were originally pushed into action by a ban on children's advertising in French-speaking Canada, but since the programme has been up and running, complaints on the issue across the rest of Canada have fallen to around zero," says [chairman Paul] Jackson. "I'm not saying there's an urgent threat here, but we must take the long-term view." [5]

Media Smart was incorporated as a business on 5 March 2002 and is a private company limited by guarantee. It is listed with Companies House as: MEDIA SMART UK LIMITED, Company No. 04387708[6]


In 2002 it was revealed that each Media Smart supporter would pay between £25,000 and 30,000 each. However as more companies were to become linked to the agency the less each individual would have to pay. [7]

Media Smart is funded by corporate sponsors and partner organisations. In 2008 these were:

Advertising Association | British Toy and Hobby Association | Business in the Community | DDB London | Ferrero | Five | GMTV | Hasbro | Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA) | Institute of Practitioners of Advertising (IPA) | Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) | ITV | Jetix | Kellogg's | Lego | Mars | Mattel | McDonald's | Mindshare | Turner Broadcasting | Viacom Brand Solutions [8]

In 2016 funders are listed as follows[9]:

Advertising Association | British Toy and Hobby Association | Britvic | Carat | Channel 4 | Facebook Ferrero | Google | Hasbro | Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA) | Internet Advertising Bureau | ITV | Lego | McCann Worldgroup | McDonald's | Mattel | Sky | Superawesome | Viacom

Independent Report

In 2006 Media Smart commissioned an independent evaluation of their BeAdwise 2 teaching materials from The Centre for the Study of Children, Youth and Media, Institute of Education, University of London. In 2007 the centre produced their independent report. The overall conclusions of the report were positive.[10]

The authors of the report were

Buckingham and Willet are members of Media Smart's expert group.

An independent organisation?

  • Mediasmart does not name its employees on its website. The office address is given as:-

Abford House:
15 Wilton Road:
SW1V 1NJ [11]

This office is also the address of the Advertising Association, which suggests that Media Smart is based inside the Advertising Association's offices.

  • The domain is also registered by Media Smart, but a 'who is' with the British internet registry gives out a different address for Media Smart:

29 Cloth Fair

This address houses the offices of Hudson Sandler [12] and the Global Consulting Group(GCG)[13] both of which are subsidiaries of Huntsworth. The GCG entry in the APPC register lists Media Smart as a client between December 2004 and November 2005. [14] Prior to that Media Smart was represented by Ergo Communications Services [15] which was acquired by Huntsworth in 2004.

  • In 2008 the Media Smart website listed a new address:-

7th Floor North:
Artillery House:
11-19 Artillery Row:
London SW1P 1RT:
Telephone: 020 7526 3615 :
Fax: 020 7526 3699 :
Email: [16]

This office is also the new address of the Advertising Association.[17]

Recent Achievements

Media Smart cites the following progress since its launch in 2002.

  • 1 million UK children have been taught with Media Smart materials so far
  • More than 7200 UK primary schools use Media Smart materials — 30 per cent of all primary schools
  • More than 80 per cent of teachers surveyed by Media Smart ‘found lessons about the selling purpose of advertising extremely useful’
  • Almost 90 per cent ‘want more materials about advertising for children’
  • More than £2.5 million of airtime has been donated by broadcasters to show Media Smart’s infomercial
  • More than 50 per cent of UK children know about Media Smart [18]

More recently Media Smart have created Digital Adwise, which is a set of online lessons intended to teach children about digital content 'in a fun and engaging way'. [19]

Media Smart's international expansion

Media Smart's 'strong uptake in Britain has led to the programme being replicated and rolled out elsewhere'. [20] It now has divisions in Belgium, The Netherlands, Poland, Ireland, Finland, Hungary, Portugal, Sweden and Germany.

Across Europe over three million children[20] in 73,000 primary schools are using Media Smart materials. More than 19,000 have requested them.[21] These programmes are supported by many powerful global companies including Microsoft, Nintendo, Hasbro and Nestle to name a few. Media Smart Germany ( is owned according to the German internet registry [22] by RTL DISNEY Fernsehen GmbH Co.KG.

For more detail see: Media Smart: International expansion of the Media Smart group



No other employees are named on Media Smart's website.

Expert Group

Media Smart's Expert Group has changed only slightly since it was set up and includes a range of academics and experts in education, media and government officials from the regulator group Ofcom and the Advertising Association.

Expert Group (as of November 2008 and November 2010)


Media Smart appears to have a good relationship with some policymakers who speak highly of the work it does and consider it a beneficial programme for young children in the UK. Lord McIntosh, The Minister for Media and Heritage, said that:

“Media Smart’s work helps children to deal with the complex messages of advertising in a critical way and the government welcomes the advertising industry’s initiative to take a responsible role in this. I believe Media Smart’s work plays a valuable role in equipping children with the tools to make informed choices about their viewing, and to effectively use, interpret and understand what they are viewing.” [25]

Tessa Jowell - the UK Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport - stated;

“Media Smart acknowledges the power of advertising and attempts to empower the consumer. And it is an example of an industry taking responsibility for its own actions. It is enlightened self-interest.” [26]

Lobbying firms

Former lobbying firms



  1. Media SmartAbout us,accessed 20 November 2008
  2. Concerned Children's Advertisers Homepage
  3. Concerned Children's Advertisers Members
  4. Cathy Loblaw, President the COO of CCA, says, “The work of CCA is possible because broadcasters allow free airtime for the PSA’s, agencies produce the ads free of charge, and companies that advertise to children support the process. The government is also involved in the initiatives as well as industry experts.”Source: Barbie Clark interview with Cathy Loblaw and Diana Carradine, Concerned Children's Advertiser's Leads the way, Young Consumers, Published in 2005, Accessed 1 November 2010
  5. Daniel Rogers Plans to keep the kids sweetPublished: March 25 2002 13:30GMT | Last Updated: March 25 2002 14:03GMT
  6. Companies House Media Smart Details, accessed 20 November 2008
  7. Robert Gray, ANALYSIS: Powerful start for Media Smart, Marketing, Published 21 November 2002, 12:00am, Accessed 26 October 2010
  8. Media Smart Supporters, Retrieved from the Internet Archive of 24 December 2008 on 21 January 2016.
  9. Media Smart Our Supporters. Retrieved from the Internet Archive of 12 January 2016 on 21 January 2016.
  10. Media Smart Evaluation Reportaccessed 20 November 2008
  11. Media Smart Contact Us
  12. Hudson Sandler Our Facilities
  13. Global Consulting Group [1]
  14. APPC Register December 2004-May 2005; APPC Register June 2005-November 2005
  15. APPC Register June 2004-November 2004
  16. Media Smart new address, accessed 18 November 2008.
  17. The Advertising AssociationContact us, accessed 20 November 2008.
  18. Barbie Clarke interview with Paul Jackson, Children are getting Media Smart in the UK, Young Consumers, Published 2005, Accessed on 10/11/10
  19. World Federation of Advertisers, Published 30/11/09, Accessed 09/11/10
  20. 20.0 20.1 Promoting Balanced Diets and Healthy Lifestyles Netherlands , CIAA Website, accessed 27 April 2011, p22
  21. Media Smart UK Response to the European Commission Media Literacy Questionnaire, European Commission Website, accessed 4 November 2010
  22. DENIC[2]
  23. Barbie Clarke, Social Issues Interview, Young Consumers, 2005. accessed November 2008
  24. Media Smart expert group, accessed 18 November 2008 and November 2010.
  25. What Others Say About Us, Media Smart UK, Accessed 1 November 2010
  26. What Others Say About Us, Media Smart UK, Accessed 1 November 2010
  27. Register Entry for 1 September 2008 to 30 November 2008 APPC, accessed 28 January 2015