January 2015

Changes Ahead for CCFC and Founding Director, Dr. Susan Linn; Out of Bounds: The NFL’s Intensive Campaign to Target Children; Commercial Quandaries for Modern Parents: The Curious George Dilemma; Remembering Peggy Charren; A Big Thanks to All of Our Year-End Donors!; A Bad Week for CEOs Whose Companies Market to Kids; Recommended Reading, Viewing, and Listening

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Changes Ahead for CCFC and Founding Director, Dr. Susan Linn
After years of leading CCFC to a string of celebrated victories, Founding Director, Dr. Susan Linn, announced she will be stepping down on June 30th, 2015. If you missed Susan’s letter to CCFC’s members announcing her decision and what lies ahead, you can read it here.

Out of Bounds: The NFL’s Intensive Campaign to Target Children
At a time when National Football League profits are threatened by declining participation in youth football, a new CCFC report exposes how much the NFL has ramped up its direct marketing to children. Out of Bounds reveals how the league advertises to children online, on children’s television stations, in schools, and in partnership with trusted nonprofits and government agencies serving kids and families. The NFL’s new strategies to woo kids have serious consequences, including encouraging gambling behaviors, increased sedentary screen time, exposure to junk-food marketing, loss of valuable instructional time in school, and exposure to the league’s off-the-field controversies.

Among the report’s unsettling findings: encouraging kids to play fantasy football is a major component of the NFL’s marketing to children, despite the fact that playing fantasy sports is a form of gambling. The league offers cash and other prizes for its fantasy contests, giving kids a vested interest in the outcome of NFL games. The league even promotes fantasy football in elementary schools. Gambling at a young age is a risk factor for problem gambling later in life.

To download the full report, please visit http://commercialfreechildhood.org/nfl.

Commercial Quandaries for Modern Parents: The Curious George Dilemma
In the second edition of our new series about parenting in a commercialized world, Leah BouRamia writes, “I struggle with exposing our 2-year-old son to Curious George. I recognize there was a study out of New Hampshire that indicated children did well in school if they had viewed this program. However, as much as I enjoy the problem solving on the show and the use of the character as a springboard for learning, I get uncomfortable when my toddler can't take his eyes away from the screen. We try to limit screen time, but it seems to relax him so much after a day at his early childhood center. Recently, he didn't even greet his father after he had been gone for two weeks on business because... You guessed it... Curious George was on. Advice?”

Click here to read Dr. Susan Linn’s reply. And click here to submit your own Commercial Quandary. We’ll select a question each month to be answered by CCFC staff and featured on our blog.

Remembering Peggy Charren
All of us at CCFC were sad to learn of the recent death of Peggy Charren, a pioneer in children’s media advocacy. In the late 1960’s, she founded Action for Children’s Television (ACT), a grassroots organization that protested the hyper-commercialization of children’s programming. Time and time again, Peggy forced broadcasters that use the public airwaves to meet their requirement to serve the public interest. ACT was the driving force behind legislation and regulations to stop TV advertisers from using particularly unfair and deceptive ways of targeting children, including the Children’s Television Act. Peggy’s tireless activism was an inspiration to everyone working to protect children from commercialism. She will be missed. To learn more about Peggy’s life and achievements, click here.

A Big Thanks to All of Our Year-End Donors!
Thanks so much to everyone who contributed to CCFC’s recent year-end campaign and helped us qualify for a $75,000 match! We rely on you because we will not compromise our commitment to children by accepting corporate funding.

A Bad Week for CEOs Whose Companies Market to Kids
Two of the leading marketers to children – and the focus of many CCFC campaigns – fired their CEOs this week after slumping sales in 2014. First Mattel's CEO Byron Stockton was ousted, in part because of a huge decline in Barbie sales. Last year’s CCFC’s call for the Girl Scouts of the USA to cut ties with Barbie led to negative headlines around the globe for the world’s most famous fashion doll. On Wednesday, McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson was forced to resign. Last summer, CCFC called on Thompson to make good on his statement to stockholders that “We don’t put Ronald out in schools.”

While we hold no ill will towards Stockton or Thompson, it is good news that profits are down for two of the corporations that most aggressively target kids.

Recommended Reading, Viewing, and Listening