CCFC to Mike Lupica and Philomel Books: No Sneaky Ads in Children’s Books

Date of Release: 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

May 9, 2012
Contact: Josh Golin (617-896-9369; josh [at] commercialfreechildhood.org)
For Immediate Release

CCFC to Mike Lupica and Philomel Books: No Sneaky Ads in Children’s Books

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is demanding that children’s publisher Philomel Books and noted sportswriter and children’s author Mike Lupica pledge not to include third party advertising in their books for children. Mr. Lupica’s The Underdog, published last fall, prominently features the shoe company New Balance, the company’s president, and the New Balance 897 cleat in its story line. The hardcover book was distributed in bookstores with a promotional book mark describing the 897 cleat “as worn by Will Tyler in Mike Lupica’s The Underdogs.” Children were directed to find the shoe at shopnewbalance.com or to visit their local New Balance Store.

“Children’s books should be free of third-party advertising,” said CCFC’s Director, Susan Linn. “They should provide a safe alternative to the commercially saturated programming kids encounter on television, in videogames, or on the web.”

In a letter to Mr. Lupica and Philomel President Michael Green, CCFC wrote:

“The promotional bookmark, in combination with the integration of New Balance into the plot of The Underdogs, smacks of the kind of product integration and ’host selling‘ that is currently banned on children’s television programming. Children’s television programs are prohibited from embedding advertising in their narratives or using ‘program talent or other identifiable program characteristics to deliver commercials’ during or adjacent to children’s programming featuring that character. Until The Underdogs, children’s books by respected authors have also been free of that kind of insidious advertising.”

In an email to CCFC, Philomel’s Green said that neither Philomel nor Mr. Lupica were paid for the product integration or for the promotional book mark. Neither Green, Lupica, nor New Balance representatives have responded to CCFC’s questions as to whether Mr. Lupica or Philomel received any promotional considerations in return.

The paperback version of The Underdogs—in stores on May 15, 2012—does not include the promotional book mark. But, according to CCFC, the damage has already been done—and it could get worse unless Philomel and Lupica take responsibility for escalating the commercialization of children’s books.

Said Dr. Linn, “Given the prominence of Mr. Lupica and Philomel Books in the children’s publishing world, it is critical that they take a stand against the advertising they have unleashed on unsuspecting families before other authors and publishers follow suit. It’s unreasonable to expect parents to rifle through books purchased for their children looking for sneaky advertising.”

For the full text of CCFC's letter, click here.

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