CCFC Blog

It was only a matter of time. Last month, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) served McDonald's with a notice of its intent to sue if the fast food giant continues to use toys to promote Happy Meals. (An "intent to sue" letter is a prerequisite to filing a lawsuit in some states.) The basis for the potential case is that using toys to market to small children is unfair and deceptive under the consumer protection laws in a number of states. According to CSPI's letter, McDonald's toy promotions violate the laws of California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Texas, and the District of Columbia. CSPI's litigation director Stephen Gardner explained in a statement that "McDonald's is the stranger in the playground handing out candy...
Because I tend to focus my attention on news being generated by the major food companies, I don't always pay close attention to the latest scary reports on obesity data. So when the annual report called F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies are Failing America came out this week, I just thought, Oh there's that report again with the awful name, with the same gloomy numbers as last year. But then I got an interesting email message forwarded from New York University professor and food politics maven Marion Nestle that made me realize I should pay closer attention to this year's report. The email was from Harold Goldstein, executive director of the highly effective non-profit, California Center for Public Health Advocacy. He was...
There are days when the forces that mine childhood for profit seem too formidable; when the corporate capture of our government feels like far too much to overcome; when the chorus of "it's all parents' fault" is so deafening that I have trouble hearing other voices. And then there are days like today, when something extraordinary happens that renews my faith that a commercial-free childhood is possible. I have just read a truly remarkable, eloquent essay by the most unexpected source. Alex Bogusky is a Founding Partner of Crispin Porter + Bogusky, one of the nation's most influential and successful ad agencies. Until recently, their accounts included Burger King and the agency is responsible for, among other things, the infamous...
I happen to know a five-year-old fan of SpongeBob SquarePants who told her father, in no uncertain terms, that SpongeBob mac and cheese tastes better than any other macaroni and cheese.  It turns out she was right—sort of. A recent study from the Rudd Center at Yale found that characters like Scooby-Doo and Dora the Explorer actually influence how children experience the taste of junk food, as well as their choice for a snack. The study provides more evidence that marketing can trump children’s senses.  Last year, researchers at Stanford found that children believed that food wrapped in McDonalds packaging tastes better than food wrapped in plain wrappers. What interests me most about the Rudd Center study, however, is that it found no...
Haven’t we been down this road before? A few years ago, it was BusRadio promising to make school buses safer and calmer with its student-targeted radio broadcasts. Now it’s television that marketers claim will soothe the beast. From the Dallas Morning News: Television can be a ready baby sitter in the living room, but will it work on school buses? The Garland school district is experimenting with playing educational videos on a school bus to help cut discipline problems. For $1,500 per bus, Carrollton-based AdComp Systems installs a 26-inch flat screen TV at the front of the bus. The screen plays videos supplied by NASA, the Discovery network, History Channel and others. The similarities between BusRadio – which closed its doors...
It’s old news that it is virtually impossible to find a movie for kids these days not selling them toys, clothing, food and accessories. But that doesn’t mean we should stop being outraged about it. Particularly egregious is when a film cloaks itself in positive messages while cynically undermining them by brand licensing, product placement and cross promotions. So I’ll say this for the Disney/Pixar studios: The company does a fabulous job of making films that simultaneously promote and trash socially responsible causes—the former through creative content and the latter through marketing. It’s true that when Pixar execs partnered with British Petroleum to promote Wall-E, the critically acclaimed animated post-apocalyptic environmental...
Nickelodeon has been urging children to vote for their favorite games at Addicting Games.com, a gaming website that is part of its popular media empire for kids. Tomorrow morning, in a television special called the Addicting Games Showdown, Nickelodeon will announce which game was voted “Most Heart-Pounding,” “Most Superior Ninja” and “OMG! Cutest Animal.” It may sound like Addicting Games is just another innocuous game site for children, but that’s not the case. CCFC has been monitoring AddictingGames.com for several months. The site, which is just a click away from many of Nick’s popular websites for children, contains numerous sexualized and graphically violent games that aren’t—by any stretch of the imagination—suitable for kids....
Iron Man 2—rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence—is just the opening salvo in the movie industry’s annual summer assault on children. This year’s attack continues with the opening of Prince of Persia, rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action. Since 2007, CCFC has tracked the marketing of violent PG-13 blockbuster movies to very young children. Our research conclusively demonstrates that these films are extensively marketed even to preschoolers through TV ads on children’s networks when a disproportionate number of their youngest viewers are watching....
Sniper Assassin 4
We're making a difference. Recently, Nickelodeon removed links to AddictingGames.com from all preschool websites under its NickJr.com umbrella, including Dora the Explorer, Backyardigans, and Wonder Pets. More than 9,000 of you demanded that Nickelodeon stop promoting its Addicting Games website to children--and there are signs that Nick is finally getting the message.  But we need you to keep the pressure on.  Nickelodeon continues to link to Addicting Games, which includes some highly sexualized and horrifically violent games, from Nick.com and many of its other kids websites.  And Nick is actually revving up its promotion of Addicting Games to children.  On Saturday June 19th, Nickelodeon TV will air the...
Below are images and descriptions of some of the highly sexualized and horrifically violent games on Nickelodeon's AddictingGames.com.  Nickelodeon promotes Addicting Games to children as young as preschoolers.  To urge Nick to stop promoting the website to children, please click here.  To learn more about CCFC's concerns -- and how Nick is finally starting to get the message, click here. You Da Sperm Accessed: June 2, 2010 Description: "What has this woman been eating that there are apparently jellyfish inside her uterus? Take Sammy the Sperm through the inner canals that is woman,...

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