February 2012

Save the Lorax!; Help Us Stop Advertising on School Buses; New Report: Schools Make Chump Change From Marketing to Students; Celebrate Screen-Free Week April 30-May 6; Keep Marketers from Stalking Kids Online; The Pressure Mounts on Channel One; Boston Magazine Profiles CCFC's Susan Linn; Recommended Reading and Viewing; Support CCFC

Newsletter HTML: 

In this issue:

  • Save the Lorax!
  • Help Us Stop Advertising on School Buses
  • New Report: Schools Make Chump Change From Marketing to Students
  • Celebrate Screen-Free Week April 30-May 6
  • Keep Marketers from Stalking Kids Online
  • The Pressure Mounts on Channel One
  • Boston Magazine Profiles CCFC's Susan Linn
  • Recommended Reading and Viewing
  • Support CCFC

Save the Lorax!

In less than 24 hours, more than 2,000 people have already signed our petition to "Save the Lorax!"  For more than forty years, Dr. Seuss's classic book, The Lorax, has been a clarion call for reducing consumption and promoting conservation.  But this Friday, Universal Pictures' The Lorax arrives in theaters with dozens of corporate partners promoting everything from Mazda SUVs—"the only car with the "Truffula Seal of Approval”—to Pottery Barn to IHOP pancakes.  

And it gets worse.  Today's Washington Post reports that Mazda has teamed with the National Education Association to use the Lorax to market SUVs in elementary schools.  At one DC-area school, children attended an assembly featuring the Lorax and a representative from Mazda, who urged kids to lobby their parents to take a test-drive.  Afterwards, the students were brought outside to look at two Lorax-festooned Mazdas and told, "That's the kind of car the Lorax would drive."  CCFC's Josh Golin told the Post, “This is among the most outrageous examples of any school advertisement program I’ve ever heard of.”

The Lorax we know and love wouldn't hawk SUVs to a captive audience of schoolchildren or sell kids on consumption.  So please take the pledge to shun The Lorax’s cross-promotions. And for a spirited defense of the Lorax's new role as a corporate shill, check out this recent episode of the Colbert Report.

Help Us Stop Advertising on School Buses

This legislative season, many states and school districts are once again looking to fill budget gaps by overturning long-standing laws that prohibit ads on school buses--even though such advertising won’t even make a dent in schools’ deficits. And once again, CCFC members all over the country are standing up and saying "no!" to proposals that would transform school buses into traveling billboards for everything from fast food to violent and sexualized media.  We’re proud that CCFC members were instrumental in defeating school bus ad legislation in most states where bills were proposed last year, and that a bill reintroduced in the state of Washington died quickly.  But there are still many states considering school bus ads, including California which just introduced a bill last week.  So if you live in CA, FL, KY, MO, NY, or RI, please visit our School Bus Ad Action Center to tell your state legislators that every child deserves a commercial-free school bus.

And if you're looking for a great article to share with friends, family, legislators and school board members that spells out why school bus ads are such a terrible idea, check out this column from the Orlando Sentinel.

New Report: Schools Make Chump Change From Marketing to Students

Faced with budget shortfalls, many school districts are allowing or considering allowing ads on school lockers, lunch trays, walls, and other school property to generate cash.  But the new report “School Commercialism: High Costs, Low Revenues” shows that in-school advertising is not an effective way of closing budget gaps.  Public Citizen surveyed the 25 largest school districts in the country, and of the 10 maintaining or considering in-school ad programs, none raised more than a miniscule .03% of its overall budget. The sums raised are so paltry that it's clearer than ever that, even in these difficult economic times, selling schoolchildren out to advertisers is a terrible idea.

Celebrate Screen-Free Week April 30-May 6

On April 30–May 6, people all over the country will join us in celebrating Screen-Free Week.  Children, families, schools, libraries, health centers, youth groups, and entire communities are pledging to zap off screen-based entertainment (and the ads that go with it) and spend 7 days playing, daydreaming, creating, reading, exploring nature and spending time with family and friends.  Our free Screen-Free Week Organizer’s Kit has everything you need to join the fun, from planning tips to activity ideas, fact sheets, printouts and more!  Click here to download it today.

Check out www.screenfree.org where you’ll find the Screen-Free Week store, a growing list of organizational endorsers, event registration, and many excellent resources.  And don’t forget to “like” Screen-Free Week on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/screenfreeweek.

P.S. Can't wait until April 30 to go Screen-Free?  You don't have to!  The Alliance for Early Childhood is celebrating its ScreenBreak staring this Sunday, March 4.  Learn more at http://www.theallianceforec.org/.

Keep Marketers from Stalking Kids Online

CCFC strongly supports the Do Not Track Kids Act, a bill that would limit companies’ ability to track children on the web or on mobile devices and empower parents to protect their kids.  Please stand up for kids’ online privacy by asking your representative to co-sponsor H.R. 1895 today at http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/actions/donottrackkids.html.

Meanwhile, a newly released Federal Trade Commission report finds that parents are unlikely to know what information companies collect about children through mobile apps or what they do with that information.  The report, “Mobile Apps for Kids: Current Privacy Disclosures Are Disappointing,” finds that there is almost no disclosure about how kids’ data is mined and shared for advertising, posing significant risk to their online privacy.

The Pressure Mounts on Channel One

The in-school marketing network Channel One News continues its egregious legacy of usurping school time to promote junk to a captive student audience, but pressure on the company to shut down is growing.  Last month, Obligation, Inc. named the winner of its first ever Wastin’ School Time and Tax Dollars Award.  Lardner Middle School in Niles, Michigan took the prize for asking students to consider Channel One part of the curriculum and suggesting teachers factor students’ Channel One “participation” into their grades. 

Channel One's recent ad assaults on kids include: Blackberry cell phones, a PG-13 rated movie featuring teen drinking, and the sex-charged website gUrl.com.  Do you have Channel One in your local schools?  Help us track where ad viewing is a mandatory classroom activity by emailing us the school name(s), city and state.

Boston Magazine Profiles CCFC’s Susan Linn

Even wonder how CCFC director Dr. Susan Linn got from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood guest star to Children’s Hospital play therapist to corporate campaigner extraordinaire?  Curious what colleagues have to say about her?  Confused about the whole CCFC/Disney/Baby Einstein controversy? Quench your thirst for knowledge with this in-depth article in this month’s Boston Magazine.  It's a wonderful profile of Susan and great overview of CCFC's advocacy to share with family and friends who may not be familiar with our work.

Suggested Reading & Viewing

Here are 3 TED Talks you shouldn't miss:

  • CCFC's Susan Linn and puppet Audrey Duck on the importance of children's creative play and how commercialism undermines it.
  • Doctor and researcher Dimitri Christakis on why screen time is harmful to babies' developing brains.
  • Beloved children's artist Raffi Cavoukian on how respecting the earth and respecting the child go hand in hand.

McDonalds and Barbie team up to tell kids of color that if they dream big they can be…white and blonde?!  Read more in this PhD in Parenting post.

Inspired by a recent CCFC talk, a mother takes on the marketing industry's nag factor effect with a homemade light sabor.  Read more.

Support CCFC


We rely on you because we will not compromise our commitment to children by accepting corporate fuding.  To make your tax-deductible donation, please visit http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/donate.