On Wednesday, Jack Buckingham released a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, saying: “I am upset that I was unknowingly involved in a large scheme that helps give kids who may not work as hard as others an advantage over those who truly deserve those spots.” Mr. Buckingham said that he hopes that “this might help finally cut down on money and wealth being such a heavy factor in college admissions.” According to the complaint, Ms. Buckingham wanted to administer a copy of the test to Jack so that he would believe that he had taken it.
Ms. Buckingham was not reached for comment through her company or her publisher, HarperCollins.
[Read more on the Justice Department’s largest ever college admissions prosecution.]
Until Thursday, when most of the pages on its website disappeared, Trendera, Ms. Buckingham’s marketing firm, listed Netflix, HBO, Facebook, Condé Nast and Target as clients. The firm helps clients reach younger demographics. Though Ms. Buckingham founded Trendera in 2009, she has been analyzing youthful interests for much longer. In the late ‘90s, she founded Youth Intelligence, a consulting firm with services similar to Trendera’s; it was later renamed The Intelligence Group.
Creative Artists Agency bought that firm in 2003, and Ms. Buckingham stayed on as its head for several years. According to the Los Angeles Times, as part of her consulting services, Ms. Buckingham led a “Trend School” in which participants paid $2,500 a head for the chance to look into the hearts and minds of Generation Xers and millennials. For those not interested in attending “Trend School,” the Intelligence Group published the crib notes in reports that were sent out several times a year for a $35,000 annual subscription.
At Trendera, Ms. Buckingham and her team continued to produce reports for a fee. For a time, they referred to Generation Z, the cohort that includes people born between 1995 and 2010, as Generation V — the “V” was for viral. By 2017, they adopted the more common term in a report on the demographic, which included a section called “Decoding Gen Z Communication” that defined terms like “issa,” “velfie” and “tings.”