(OK pre-post information — just so there isn’t confusion with readers. The LA Times article about the cheerleaders is real, as are the quotes in italics.  Everything else is made up, including the stuff about the mother and cheerleader daughter at the end.  I was inspired by my blogging friend Erin (Queen of Spain), who wrote an interesting post about mommybloggers and how they should think of themselves as businesses. It made me wonder… why is this story about corporations using cheerleaders for marketing purposes any different? I only recently became interested in this subject of marketing and blogging because I’ve been reading all these discussions on Twitter. I didn’t realize that so many mommybloggers get freebies and invited to these corporate weekends.  I think it is great that bloggers get any type of opportunities, especially those who never had the chance before.   I just think this is a bad for blogging in general to go so corporate, as we’ll then begin to distrust what everyone says (is it marketing or not?).  Call me old-fashioned.

The post —

We always hear such bad news about today’s teenagers — low test scores, teen pregnancy, drug use, etc. — that it is nice to hear some positive news about our youth.

In today’s LA Times, there is an inspiring article about teenage girls who are true leaders, and using their skills to empower themselves.

For decades, cheerleaders have been the most popular girls in school. Their influence is unmatched. Other girls want to look like them, befriend them, and get the same type of attention from the boys. Cheerleaders, acknowledging their important role as influencers, are getting smart — joining with major firms in exciting strategic marketing alliances. After all, if a manufacturer wants to sell a new type of “teen” hairspray, why not go directly to those “who matter the most” — the prettiest girls — the cheerleaders.

“Forces are making it very difficult for advertisers to connect with young people,” said Samantha Skey, executive vice president of strategic marketing at Alloy Media & Marketing, a youth marketing agency. “So advertisers are going into schools, forging new platforms for youth connection.”

“My whole bathroom is full of stuff they give us,” said a freshman on the Rock Star Athletics cheerleading team.

Companies are smart to target cheerleaders, said Marlene Cota, vice president of corporate alliances at Varsity Brands Inc., the Memphis, Tenn., company that ran the competition in Anaheim, because they are often the girls others look up to.

At recent cheerleading camps across the country, Propel, a unit of Gatorade Co., sponsored “hydration breaks,” handing out “fitness water” after participants exercised; CoverGirl conducted a makeover tour, showing how to apply lip gloss and other cosmetic products; and Skintimate, a unit of S.C. Johnson & Son. Inc., sponsored an in-camp cheerleading competition to anoint a “Smooth Moves” champion.

“The girls literally screamed at each camp when they learned they would get free CoverGirl makeovers and samples,” company spokeswoman Anitra Marsh said.

Sarah Schneider, a 35 year old mother from Santa Monica, is proud of her fourteen year old daughter, Kristy, one of the “popular girls” at school, and a cheerleader.

“It took me 35 years and two therapists to figure out my personal “branding,” said Sarah, a popular mommyblogger also known as AOKMomma. “Kristy is lucky to have become an early adopter at her young age. All her friends look up to her, so it is only natural for her to promote products to them, especially to those who aren’t very popular or pretty. By using the product that she is promoting, the other girls can make believe that are as wonderful as Kristy. It’s exactly what I do on my blog with MY FRIENDS! I’m so proud that Kristy is following in my footsteps! The two of us have really bonded, mother and daughter, helping each better monetize our brands.”

Of course, a pair of influencers in one household can also have humorous side effects. Recently, Sarah published a series of blog posts promoting Degree anti-perspirant, after receiving several freebies in the mail. A week later, another package came with more samples of Degree. Was she supposed to be writing another post? Then, she noticed that the package was addressed to… her daughter!

“Kristy was throwing a Degree anti-perspirant Party with her cheerleader friends. We laughed so hard. We were both marketing the same product to our friends! But Kristy is so much more clever than I am. She came up with her own slogan for the party — and we wrote it on a big sign that read, “Be as Cool and Pretty as the Cheerleaders. Use Degree anti-perspirant.” All the less-attractive girls were buying the Degree samples from her, so much so that she made enough money to buy her own Guitar Hero 3 for the freebie Wii she got from Nintendo for promoting that to her friends at church. ! I have a feeling that one day, she’s going to have a blog that is even more popular than mine!”