Date of Release:
July 26, 2012
For Immediate Release
Boston—July 26—Jim Henson's Creature Shop has severed ties with Chick-fil-A, but PBS Kids continues to promote the fast food purveyor to young children.
In May, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and Public Citizen launched a campaign urging PBS to end a four-year marketing agreement between the popular children's show Martha Speaks and Chick-fil-A. To date, more than 7,500 people have signed petitions urging PBS to end the partnership. And now, Chick-fil-A is at the center of a growing controversy following remarks by its president, Dan Cathy, condemning same-sex marriage. The Jim Henson Creature Shop has announced it would no longer partner with Chick-fil-A for in-store toy promotions, but PBS Kids and member station WGBH continue to stand by Chick-fil-A.
"We congratulate Jim Henson's Creature Shop for taking a principled stance and severing its ties with Chick-fil-A. We urge PBS Kids and WGBH to do the same," said CCFC's director, Dr. Susan Linn. "In addition to selling kids on fast food, they are promoting a company to children that is known for its hostility to the LGBT community."
The multi-pronged promotion, whose stated goals include to "reach children" and "drive brand preference and restaurant traffic," includes 15-second ads for Chick-fil-A before and after Martha Speaks TV episodes; advertising on PBS Kids; and in-store giveaways at more than 1600 Chick-fil-A locations. In 2011, an astounding 56 million Chick-fil-A Kid's Meals were distributed in Martha Speaks co-branded bags, and PBS executives refuse to say what they have planned for the 30 months left in the promotion.
"The Martha Speaks partnership with Chick-fil-A undermines PBS's role as an important civic institution that offers educational programming for kids," said Elizabeth Ben-Ishai, campaign coordinator of Public Citizen's Commercial Alert project. "PBS Kids should end this partnership with a company that not only harms children's' health, but also fosters the exclusion and hatred of the LGBT community."
Given the controversy surrounding Chick-fil-A-and growing concerns about childhood obesity, one might think that PBS would be circumspect about using a highly-regarded children's show to lure kids to the fast-food chain. Instead, PBS is touting the "success" of its Chick-fil-A campaign to attract other sponsors looking to target children. The Sponsorship Group for Public Television features a case study on the Chick-fil-A campaign to convince companies that sponsoring kids' shows on PBS can help meet their marketing goals. And PBS member station WGBH, which produces Martha Speaks, actually nominated its Chick-fil-A campaign for a Cynopsis Imagination kids marketing award this spring.
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is a national coalition of health-care professionals, educators, advocacy groups, and concerned parents who counter the harmful effects of marketing to children through action, advocacy, education, research, and collaboration among organizations and individuals who care about children.
Commercial Alert is a project of Public Citizen, a consumer protection organization based in Washington, D.C., with more than 300,000 members and supporters. The goal is to keep commercial culture within its proper sphere, and to prevent it from exploiting children and subverting higher values of family, community, environmental integrity, and democracy.