and Saturday, October 27 & 28: Presentations and Workshops
Friday featured presentations and workshops on
an array of important topics, including the ways that marketing
affects children in poverty and children of color; and the
impact of commercialized sex and violence on children.
Saturday’s highlights included a keynote address from Alex
Molnar on marketing in schools, an inspiring panel on effective
advocacy strategies, and the surprise presentation of the
American Psychological Association’s Presidential Citation to
CCFC’s Susan Linn.
You can read summaries of many of the presentations
Here's what some of the attendees had to say about their
"As someone who has traveled to all sorts of media literacy
conferences in the States and the world, this one was
extraordinary! . . . Drawing from the work of experts and
advocates in education, psychology, law, cultural studies,
communication, and women's studies, the sessions explored the
myriad ways that childhood is compromised by materialism
marketed as choice, happiness, and independence. Unlike other
"critical" conferences that can leave you with an overwhelming
desire to move to
empowered its audience with a culminating session on the
successes of diligence and activism." Julie Frechette,
Worcester State College
"I came home jazzed and
non-stop talking about things I heard that were meaningful to me
and I wanted to immediately integrate into work." - Cordelia
Anderson, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
And from our anonymous
"Wonderful mix of
presenters and participants."
"Extremely useful and gave
appropriate strategies to use within my classroom and during
interactions with parents."
"The workshops I attended
(Media/Brazil, KoolMixx, ACME) were wonderful examples of
inspirations for advocacy…these stories keep you going."
"I can use much of what
I’ve learned in my school counseling work. Much of this extends
what I already teach in nutrition and health. As a person, it
has brought awareness to me of the depth of the problem so I can
be more of an informed activist."
"A total inspiration."
"This was so useful and
helpful. Really fired me up and I made lots of connections with
activists in my local area."
New Voluntary Guidelines for Marketing to Children are Pure
In November, and with much
fanfare, the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) – the
advertising industry’s self-appointed regulatory body - released
its revised guidelines on marketing to children. The new
guidelines are the clearest indication yet that, when it comes
to marketing to children, self-regulation has failed. In the
midst of an epidemic of childhood obesity, the industry has
proposed a series of guidelines that will little to reduce the
barrage of junk food advertising aimed at children:
• The food industry will be allowed to continue to promote
unhealthy food to children by adding token messages about
“lifestyle.” A scene of kids snowboarding inserted in a
commercial for Big Macs is not going to reduce children’s junk
food consumption or childhood obesity.
• Cartoon characters will
continue to be used to promote unhealthy food. The guidelines
only call for this kind of marketing to be reduced—there are no
specific goals or restrictions.
• Advergaming will be allowed
to continue, including for unhealthy food like candy bars and
• Corporate sponsored
educational materials and other in-school programs that promote
company brands will still be allowed, even in elementary
schools. Ronald McDonald and other company spokescharacters will
continue to visit schools all over the country.
• CARU’s guidelines are not
enforceable. A recent study found that 82% of food industry
websites for children do not comply with CARU's guidelines.
Specifically, only 18% provide ad breaks or ad alerts for
children on their website ads.
National Study Finds School Beverage Contracts a Raw Deal for
This new study from the Public
Health Advocacy Institute and the Center for Science in the
Public Interest analyzed 120 school beverage contracts across
sixteen states. The finding: Schools receive very little
financial benefit from these contracts while soda companies are
given exclusive opportunities to sell and market unhealthy
beverages to a captive group of children. On average, the
contracts only raised $18 per student per year. Many contracts
also penalize schools for not meeting sales quotas, which gives
school administrators an incentive to encourage soda
consumption. An invaluable resource for anyone trying to get
sugary beverages out of schools, the report is available at
News from Britain: A Must-Read Report and New Proposals to Curb
Junk Food Advertising
There’s been a great deal of activity in Britain recently around
marketing to children. The advocacy group, Compass, has just
released a searing report,
Commercialisation of Childhood.
In addition, there’s been significant progress
in the effort to protect children from junk food marketing.
Our colleague Kath Dalmeny, from the British Food
Commission, kindly agreed to explain the new proposals from
Ofcom, Britain’s advertising regulatory agency. One thing
that’s clear is that Ofcom, in contrast to our current Federal
Trade Commission, is actually proposing regulation. Here are
some highlights from her response:
In summary, very little is in LAW, but quite a lot has been done
by regulatory bodies, so there has been good progress, e.g.:
Ofcom (the government regulator and competition authority for
the UK communications industries) recently came out with
recommendations to government for how food marketing to children
should be addressed. These are not yet law, and may well be
modified before a law is passed, since this is now a political
decision. Jane Landon has summarized the Ofcom recommendations
Restrictions should be limited to high fat,
salt / sugar (HFSS; junk) foods only (using the FSA nutrient
No HFSS advertising in children’s
programmes (including pre-school children)
No HFSS advertising on dedicated children’s
No HFSS advertising in programmes
of particular appeal to children under 16. (Programmes will be
affected if the proportion of children in the demographic mix
of the audience is at least 20% higher than the proportion of
children in the population at large).
No celebrities or licensed characters to be
used in ads for HFSS products aimed at primary aged children.
No nutritional or health claims in HFSS ads
aimed at primary aged children.
No promotional offers (giveaways) in HFSS
ads aimed at primary aged children.
of Ofcom’s proposals
assessment is that this package of rules will reduce children’s
exposure to advertising impacts by 41% for 4-15 year olds. (51%
for 4-9 year olds).
to be cheerful
It is very good news that Ofcom has
proposed that rules should apply only to HFSS food and drinks,
using the FSA nutrient profiling model.
It is also very good news that Ofcom has
accepted that the scope of rules should cover children up to
16, not just under-9s.
It is significant that Ofcom has said that
the content rules on promotional gifts, celebrities and
licensed characters and nutritional and health claims should
only apply to HFSS. This imposes nutrient profiling
into the self-regulatory code. If the code owners can be held
to their stated objective that advertising rules should be
“media neutral,” this paves the way for interesting
discussions about differentiated rules being mirrored into
Despite industry pleadings, Ofcom has held
firm that the new rules should apply both to advertisements
and programme sponsorship credits.
Ofcom has not proposed a 9pm watershed
(despite very strong support for this option from health
organisations, consumer and children's organisations, and
Brand advertising (where no product is
shown) is not covered by the regulations. However, Ofcom is
sensitive to the warnings we have raised about this potential
loophole and stated that: “…Ofcom
will look to advertisers to act responsibly in their wider
interpretation of, and response to, the measures to restrict
HFSS product advertising. The Government intends to conduct a
review next year to determine changes in the nature and
balance of food promotion across broadcast and non-broadcast
media. This will then be followed by Ofcom’s review, which
Ofcom expects to begin in autumn 2008. Should advertisers
choose to use brand advertising to seek to avoid product-based
restrictions, this would form the focus of scrutiny in future.”
The content rules define children as “primary
aged”, not under 16.
The National Conference for Media Reform, January 12-14, 2007,
Mark your calendars and make
your reservations today -- registration for the Free Press' 2007
National Conference for Media Reform is now open. This
one-of-a-kind event will take place on January 12-14, 2007 in
Memphis, Tennessee. This energizing weekend will present ideas
and strategies for winning the fight for better media and
connect you with thousands of media reformers from across the
Join Amy Goodman, Jane Fonda,
Jesse Jackson, Bill Moyers, Geena Davis, Phil Donahue, Helen
Thomas, Van Jones, Laura Flanders, Davey D, Juan Gonzalez,
Katrina vanden Heuvel, FCC Commissioners Copps and Adelstein,
CCFC’s Susan Linn and many more for an unforgettable and
Sign up now for the 2007
National Conference for Media Reform:
2006 was a great year for
books about commercialism. Here are four of our favorites:
Michele Simon , Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry
Undermines Our Health and How to Fight Back.
Written by the founder of the Center for Informed Food Choices,
a CCFC member organization, Appetite for Profit is a
must-read for anyone concerned about childhood obesity, the
politics of food, or how corporations avoid much needed
regulation. Simon deftly helps readers cut through industry
spin and details Big Food tactics such as “nutriwashing,”
co-opting government and nutrition science, and funding anything
goes attack groups such as the Center for Consumer Freedom.
Complete with an entertaining glossary that explains corporate
rhetoric, including phrases like “better-for-you foods” and
“frivolous lawsuit,” Appetite for Profit will help you
understand what companies really mean when they claim the mantle
of social responsibility and why our current system of
self-regulation can never serve the public interest.
Sharon Lamb and Lyn Mikel Brown, Packaging Girlhood:
Rescuing Our Daughters from Marketers Schemes.
In Packaging Girlhood, Sharon Lamb and Lyn Mikel Brown
(founder of CCFC organizational member Hardy Girls, Healthy
Women), describe for parents the devastating
image of girls (sexy, diva, boy-crazy,
shoppers) that's being packaged and sold to their daughters.
In an engaging and compelling manner, the authors describe how
girl power has been co-opted by marketers to mean the power to
shop and attract boys and how girls are encouraged to use their
"voice" to choose accessorizing over academics, sex appeal over
sports, and boyfriends over friends. Packaging
Girlhood includes plenty of sound advice and tips for
Dimitri A. Christakis and Frederick Zimmerman, The
Elephant in the Living Room: Make Television Work For Your
Two of the nation’s leading researchers on television and young
children have written a great book detailing the effects of TV
viewing on kids’ emotional, mental, and physical development.
Christakis and Zimmerman synthesize the latest research and
explain it in an easy and conversational manner. Packed with
solid information and good advice, The Elephant in the Living
Room helps us understand the urgent need to take control of
TV’s impact on our children and ourselves – and provides us with
the tools to do it.
Inger Stole, Advertising on Trial: Consumer Activism and
Corporate Public Relations in the 1930’s.
Advertising on Trial tells the forgotten story of the
confrontation between Depression-era consumer rights groups and
advertisers. Met with fierce political opposition from
organized consumer movements when it emerged, modern advertising
was viewed as propaganda that undermined the ability of
consumers to live in a healthy civic environment. Stole
examines how these consumer activists sought to limit the
influence of corporate powers by rallying popular support to
moderate and transform advertising. Drawing on a wider range of
archival sources, this riveting account offers many important
lessons for those who wish to limit advertising’s influence
Things We Wish We Didn’t
Northwest Airlines has
begun including Baby Einstein videos on many of their
flights. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no
screen time for children under two.
In Left Behind: Eternal
Forces, a new videogame in stores this holiday season,
players are rewarded for killing or converting non-Christians.
McDonald's new PR
effort involves replacing their in-house playgrounds with
exercise gyms for kids—and, unfortunately, it seems to be
working on some parents. "Normally, we don't give her junk
said one California mother who normally “steers clear” of
the chain, “but I figure she could come here and work off her
meals." It would take a child about two hours of vigorous
exercise on a stationary bike to work off a typical happy
Marketers ≠ Pediatricians
By Susan Linn, Ed.D.
The American Academy of Pediatric’s recent
policy statement on children and advertising
ire from the marketing industry. While I wish that the
statement had been stronger, taken together the AAP’s
recommendations would go a long way toward limiting advertising
and marketing in the lives children.
Perhaps the most bizarre and troubling response
came from Dick O’Brien, of the American Association of
Advertising Agencies. He was quoted in Advertising Age
as saying, “It’s as dangerous for pediatricians to make
recommendations about advertising as for me to write a
prescription for a child’s ear infection.”
“Dangerous to whom?” I wonder. Clearly,
examining the impact of societal influences on children’s health
is within the purview of pediatrics. On the other hand, it
is dangerous for corporations to have responsibility for
children’s health, since they are legally bound to place
shareholder profits above all other considerations.
It would be easy to dismiss Mr. O’Brien’s
analogy as too ridiculous to bother about. But it is emblematic
of the societal tendency to blur what ought to be obvious and
needs to be preserved—the essential differences between the
marketplace and public health. There are obvious benefits to
corporations if these lines are fudged. In this instance, it’s
great PR for ad executives to equate themselves with
pediatricians, psychologists or other health professionals who
are bound—at least by their codes of ethics—to have human
welfare at the center of their mission. But when companies blur
public perception of the boundaries between public health and
corporate well-being, children are harmed. It becomes more
difficult for us to know when their needs are being subordinated
to the bottom line.
Confounding the distorted view that marketing
and medicine are the same is the culpability of the “helping
professions” themselves. Psychologists and pediatricians
on a corporate payroll compromise their objectivity and the
integrity of their professions when they extol the virtues of
that company's products without disclosing their financial ties.
As the movement to stop the commercial
exploitation of children continues to grow, we can expect more
of this kind of spin from the advertising industry. We hope
you’ll join us this year in challenging the notion that
corporate America knows what’s best for children and reminding
people that the public health community, commercial media
companies, and marketers do not all have the same priorities.
Your tax-deductible contribution
will help us:
awareness about how marketing harms children
policies that will help protect children from corporate
coalition of individuals and organizations that value
children more than corporate profits.
All contributions of $100 between now and January 1 will
be matched by an anonymous donor!
Click here to donate today!