The Girl’s Intelligence Agency is a marketing organization from California that is hired by big companies (such as Disney and Warner Brothers) to do in-depth research of the “tween” market (8-12 year-olds) through what I consider extreme guerilla marketing. The G.I.A. claims to have over 40,000 “Secret Agents,” ages 8-29, all over the United States. These “secret agents” consist mainly of “tween” girls, who the G.I.A. uses as a liaison to other “tween” girls, to find out what they like and don’t like about certain products. The products are typically manufactured by whatever company hires G.I.A.
One of the G.I.A.’s most popular marketing tools is the “Slumber Party In A Box,” which consists of a “secret agent” having other girls her age, whether they be from school or recreational clubs, come over to her house for a “slumber party.” The twist is that the “slumber party” is really just a mask for the marketing research G.I.A. is doing. An actual adult representative will usually be present, handing out various products to the girls for them to “test out.” Then, the “secret agent” is supposed to follow a list of guideline questions, given to her by the representative, about the products. The girls other than the “secret agent” are unaware that this is anything other than a slumber party.
To me, G.I.A. represents an appalling, unbiased greed that many big businesses in this country have. These businesses market strictly to the youth, knowing that they likely lack the maturity to make rational decisions when it comes to where they put their finances, not to mention their priorities, values, and self-esteem. They implement this idea to children and young adults that “you need this or you won’t fit in,” and it can have long-lasting effects.
In a 60 Minutes interview with one of the “secret agents,” the girl says she’s “special,” which already shows an ego based on these parties. Will all of her “friends” who thought she was “cool” because she had all of those things still think she is “cool” when she doesn’t? Some might, but typically, with impressionable youth, they move onto the next “popular” person. Meanwhile, this former “secret agent” will believe that they must again get the “cool” products in order to be the “popular” again. This establishes a need to be a consumer in order to function socially.
Here’s part of the 60 Minutes piece: