SCEC NEWS ~ Summer, 2003
News is a regular service for members and friends of the
Stop Commercial Exploitation of Children coalition.
SCEC's mission is to stop commercial exploitation
of children through action, advocacy, research, and
collaboration among organizations and individuals who care
NEXT SUMMIT will be
in NEW YORK CITY.
To coincide with
the KidScreen marketing summit and
the International Toy Fair!
IN THIS ISSUE
Golden Marble Awards Roll Into the Sunset
three years of protests led by SCEC, the advertising
industry’s Golden Marble Awards have been suspended.
The Golden Marble celebrated the “most
successful” (read: most lucrative) corporate marketing
to kids regardless of its effect on the well-being of
children and families.
every September in New York City, past awards heaped
praises on child psychologists who advise the advertising
industry on how to more effectively manipulate children
for profit, as well as the explosion of
“cross-promotion” that ties sales of junk food
and junk toys in popular children’s entertainment –
movies like Shrek and Spy Kids, along with outlets like
Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network.
Since 2000, SCEC held protest rallies outside the
Golden Marble Awards ceremonies, and once staged a mock
ceremony – the “Have You Lost Your Marbles Awards”
– drawing attention to some of the worst examples of
commercial exploitation of kids.
statement on the Golden Marble website says, “We’ve
decided to take this year off to sit back and re-evaluate
the end of the Golden Marbles is only one smallvictory in
the uphill fight against the corporate manipulation of
kids, the fact that children’s advertising industry no
longer feels comfortable publicly celebrating their
exploits is important.
Good News: Reactions
to the Obesity Epidemic
Growing public awareness of the
obesity epidemic is focusing much-needed attention on
issues of marketing and children.
A recent conference hosted by Northeastern
University’s Public Health Advocacy Institute, “Legal
Approaches to the Obesity Epidemic,” brought together a
wide range of lawyers, public health experts, and
activists and attracted lots of media attention.
A presentation by SCEC’s Susan Linn on the
techniques used to market unhealthy food to children was
well received and there was a general consensus among the
conference’s participants that these practices were one
area on the food companies were particularly vulnerable.
some people working in the food industry agree.
Several days later, Kraft
Foods announced they would stop their in-school
this PR move should be viewed with skepticism, it suggests
that Kraft, like the Golden Marbles’ sponsor, is aware
of the negative publicity that can accompany predatory
a number of school districts are reviewing their
“pouring contracts” with soda manufacturers.
York City recently banned soda and junk food from
school vending machines.
Anyone familiar with New York’s dire financial
situation can appreciate what a courageous decision this
Seattle, the school board’s decision to renew the
district’s Coke contract was so hotly debated that
pouring contracts figure to be the main issue in the
upcoming board elections.
and Daughters is celebrating the recent announcement
by the Department of Education that reaffirmed current
policies and regulations for Title IX, the federal law
that bars gender discrimination and which led to an
explosion in girls’ sports.
DADs led several letter-writing campaigns in
support of Title IX after the Department of Education
announced it was conducting an extensive review of the
decision to keep Title IX intact represents a major
victory for girls, women, and, as DADs President Joe Kelly
would be the first to tell you, fathers.
Invades the Classroom
excellent new video from the Media Education Foundation
examines the escalating problem of corporate marketing to
children in school.
Narrated by SCEC’s Alvin F. Poussiant, Captive
Audiences details such assaults on children’s
health and education as corporate sponsored curriculum
materials, pouring contracts with major beverage companies
like Coca Cola and Pepsico, and Channel One’s
commercially sponsored news programs.
Even as the video shows how cash strapped schools
are vulnerable to marketers, commentators Alex Molnar,
Henry Giroux, Arnold Fege and Naomi Klein make clear the
real costs of “free”
soda money, corporate sponsored classroom materials and
equipment. In addition to laying out the problem of in
school marketing, Captive
takes the important step of exploring avenues for
resisting school commercialism including local activism
in VHS or DVD; the DVD comes with valuable bonus material
including a complete Channel One broadcast.
For ordering info, please visit http://www.mediaed.org
WE WISH WE DIDN’T KNOW
Toys R’ Us and other retailers have
started hosting camps as a way of attracting kids during
the summer. Marketing
executive Lois Huff told the Washington Times the camps
were “diabolically clever” because even though they
are free, parents almost always buy something
Preschools are targets for American
Greetings, which is trying to rekindle interest in the
Care Bears (remember them?) by distributing branded
posters, worksheets and other materials to 5,000
preschools, including important lessons such as “What
kind of a Care Bear am I?”
The promotion heralds a line of Care Bear home
videos and DVDs later this year.
Meanwhile, McDonalds may replace Ronald
McDonald. Why? Not because they’re suddenly worried
about the ethics of using a clown to market junk food
directly to young children.
Rather, according on one McDonald’s executive,
there are concerns that Ronald isn’t “sassy” enough
to resonate with today’s kids.
As toy companies continue to undermine
children’s creative play combining toys with electronic
media, a number of fall releases--including long time
favorites from Play Doh and Hot Wheels--will come with
videos or DVD’s designed to “give kids an immediate
understanding of the product” and increase sales of
video games and “other products.”
Since when to kids need videos to gain an
understanding of Play Doh?
The lines between toys and electronic media are
ever more blurred.
CREEPY QUOTE OF THE MONTH:
“In the home, while every family is different,
you can generalize and say that mom keeps the social
schedules, dad manages the finances, and the kid programs
the VCR,” marketing executive Marston Allen explaining
why advertisers should pay more attention to children when
selling technology products to families.
is the time
a recent episode of Nightline, Dr. Kelly Brownell,
director of Yale
Center for Eating and Weight Disorders,
kept trying to make the point that the food companies
bear some responsibility for the growing obesity epidemic,
but host Chris Bury wasn’t buying it.
No matter what Brownell said, Bury and Gene
Grabowski of the Grocery Association of America steered
the discussion back “personal responsibility.”
When Brownell began discussing how children were
bombarded with ads for unhealthy foods, however, the tone
the first time, Grabowski went on the defensive as Bury
questioned him about the food industry’s marketing
to children is in the news.
While many media commentators mock or dismiss the
idea of “fat suits” as a way for greedy trial lawyers
to get rich, it is hard to find someone willing to defend
the food companies marketing practices aimed at children.
Because how do you defend the indefensible?
If, as marketers claim, parents are responsible for
what their children eat, why aim food ads at children at
all? A few
years ago only a few of us were asking that question.
Now columnists such as Marvin Kitman of Newsday are
calling for a ban
on food advertising to children under 12.
an exciting time for people concerned about the commercial
exploitation of children, as a national debate about how
much we allow our children to fall into the hands of
marketers has begun.
It’s a time to question—as school districts
from Seattle to New York are doing-- the legitimacy of
pouring contracts and junk food marketing in schools.
It is also a time, as
a recent op-ed in the New
York Times suggests, to expand the debate
from food advertising in schools to all advertising in
schools–or all advertising aimed at children.
Most important, it’s a time to get involved.
an issue that really gets your blood boiling and do
something about it. For
instance, you could:
Call your school
board and find out if they have a deal with Coke or Pepsi.
If they do, let your local paper know about it and
talk to other parents about your concerns. Visit
the Citizens’ Campaign for Commercial-Free Schools’
see how parents in Seattle are resisting commercialism in
Sign the Parents
Bill of Rights and send a copy to your
the fight against the recent FCC decision to
deregulate media ownership
Tape an hour of
children’s television and show it to a group of friends.
Are the shows de facto commercials for toys, food
or other products? Count
the commercials. Many
parents are unaware of the myriad ways their children are
are just a few suggestions.
If there is a marketing practice you find
particularly egregious and you’re not sure what to do
us know and we’ll help you come up with some
keep talking about the commercial exploitation of
more than ever, people are listening.
FOR INDIVIDUALS: With a minimum $25 tax
deductible membership you receive:
a minimum $100 membership you receive:
All individual benefits
Organizational link from the SCEC webpage
Publicity for your events and activities
Opportunities to collaborate
should be made out to:
Baker Children's Center
B. Sweeny / SCEC
Baker Children's Center
Blackfan Circle, Boston, MA 02115
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