October 2009

FTC Agrees to CCFC PG-13 Movie Marketing Investigation Request; Registered Yet? CCFC's Super Early Bird Special Ends Nov. 1; Kids Spend More Than One Full Day Per Week Watching TV; New Study: Least Healthy Cereals Heavily Marketed to Kids; Things We Wish We Didn't Know; Actions Speak Loudest: Keeping Our Promise for a Better World; More on Baby Einstein...and Why It Matters

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In this Issue:

FTC Agrees to CCFC PG-13 Movie Marketing Investigation Request

Registered Yet? CCFC's Super Early Bird Special Ends Nov. 1

Kids Spend More Than One Full Day Per Week Watching TV

New Study: Least Healthy Cereals Heavily Marketed to Kids

Things We Wish We Didn't Know

Actions Speak Loudest: Keeping Our Promise for a Better World

More on Baby Einstein...and Why It Matters

FTC Agrees to CCFC Request for PG-13 Movie Marketing Investigation

We've got important news about our ongoing campaign to stop the motion picture industry from marketing PG-13 movies to young children:  The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has agreed to investigate the marketing plans for several films rated PG-13 for violent content and indicated that information provided by CCFC to the FTC (e.g. that nearly 5,000 ads for five 2009 violent PG-13 movies and their related merchandise ran during children's programming) will be a part of that investigation.  In a letter to CCFC, FTC Chairman Jon Liebowitz agreed that the marketing of PG-13 movies directly to young children is an "end run around the parental review role" and that, "neither the Motion Picture Association of America "MPAA" nor the individual movie studios have taken adequate steps to ensure that PG-13 movies are not marketed in a manner inconsistent with their rating."

Thanks so much to the thousands of CCFC members who weighed in on this issue, either by writing directly to the MPAA or signing our petition to the FTC.  We'll keep you posted on the FTC's findings and the next steps in this important campaign.

Have You Registered Yet? CCFC's Super Early Bird Flies Away November 1

Only 3 more days to register at super early bird rates for CCFC's 7th Consuming Kids Summit:  Market Values, Human Values, and the Lives of Children.  On November 1, registration will increase $40 so why not register today?  For more about the summit, including our all-star lineup of presenters, please visit: http://commercialfreechildhood.org/events.htm.

Kids Spend More Than One Full Day Per Week Watching TV

The newest Nielsen figures find that children ages 2 to 5 watch over 32 hours of television per week, and children ages 6 to11 watch more than 28 hours.  This puts kids' TV viewing at an 8-year high.  The increase is said to be due to more programming targeted at children, including video on demand, which allows kids to watch shows repeatedly.  Children in the 2 to 5 age group watch more commercials than older kids and adults, watching ads over and over in playback mode.  Children's health advocates are alarmed by this increase in television consumption, citing the negative effects that commercial screen media have been shown to have on children.  Read more...

New Study Finds Least Healthy Cereals Most Heavily Marketed to Children

Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity released a study this week that concludes what many parents have suspected for a long time: The least nutritious breakfast cereals are the ones most aggressively marketed to children.  Among the study's key findings are that the average preschooler sees 642 cereal ads per year on television alone, most for cereals with the least nutritional value, and that cereals marketed directly to children have 85% more sugar, 60% more sodium, and 65% less fiber than cereals marketed to adults.  Learn more at http://www.cerealfacts.org/.

Things We Wish We Didn't Know

Channel One, the controversial in-school news and marketing network, has now started advertising Cliff Notes - the infamous way for children to pass a test without actually reading the book - on its website for students.   

Scholastic is promoting its Goosebumps property just about everywhere this month:  At Taco Bell, in malls, in schools, on trick-or-treat bags, at the Scholastic Store in New York City, and on iPhones and the Cartoon Network.   But if you're concerned about Scholastic promoting fast food, screen time, trips to the mall, and more, don't worry - a Scholastic representative claims that "Goosebumps is all about the THRILL of reading."

Earlier this month, hundreds of girls attended the 2009 Tween Summit sponsored by marketer AlleyKatzz.  For attendees, the event was billed as a chance to "talk about their passions, challenges, values, goals … and what they are going to do to change their world."  For marketers, it was a chance to gain a "more thorough understanding of this enigmatic and highly influential demographic."  Not only were marketers' products on display and incorporated throughout the event, but data collected from the "Tween Summit observation deck" will be synthesized into an upcoming market research report.

Actions Speak Loudest: Keeping Our Promise for a Better World

This new book delves into the heart of thirty-two issues, ranging from childhood obesity to climate change, that are critical to the well-being of the next generation.  With evocative, award-winning photographs; articulate and accessible essays; and attainable, ambitious ideas for action the book is designed as a clarion call to help us keep our generational promise.  Contributors include Jimmy Carter, Richard Louv, Dave Eggers, Robert Coles, and CCFC's Dr. Susan Linn, who writes about the importance of make-believe play.  To learn more, please visit: http://actionsspeakloudest.org/book.html.

More on Baby Einstein...and Why it Matters

CCFC is pleased that Baby Einstein has acknowledged that their videos for infants and toddlers are not educational, but calls on the company to stop misleading parents about its past actions.  Baby Einstein's General Manager, told Good Morning America, "We have not claimed that we are educational."  Yet an examination of Baby Einstein's promotional materials over the years -- both before and after the company was purchased by the Walt Disney Company -- makes clear that Baby Einstein has built its brand on the implication that its videos have educational benefits for babies and toddlers.  For example, Baby Einstein's first press release heralded "the first developmental video to combine visual and linguistic experiences that facilitate the development of the brain in infants ages one to 12 months."  You can read more about Baby Einstein's history of educational claims here.

It is important to understand that the marketing of baby videos as educational is incredibly effective.  A 2007 study found that the number one reason parents let babies watch screen media was the belief that DVDs were educational or good for brain development.  Here's what one of the study's authors said about the findings in the book NutureShock (h/t The Corporate Babysitter):

"We had parents with kids in front of the TV for as many as twenty hours a week 'for their brain development,'" recalled Dr. Andrew Meltzoff . . . . "Parents told us that they couldn't provide  much for their children, and that troubled them, so they had saved up and bought the videos hoping that would make up for everything else. . . . They said they thought that was the best thing they could do for their babies."   

We hope that in light of everything that's happened in the past week, parents will be reassured that their babies do not need videos in order to learn and grow optimally.