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Fall 2007 News

 

Newsletter Archives

In this issue:

 

CCFC to McDonald’s:  Stop Selling Sex with a Side of Fries (or Apple Dippers)

 

CCFC is demanding that McDonald’s immediately end its highly sexualized My Scene Barbie Happy Meal promotion featuring ludicrously proportioned Barbies with micro miniskirts, halter tops, and rollerblades.

 

 

“It’s bad enough that McDonald’s continues to use toys to sell kids on junk food,” said CCFC’s director, Dr. Susan Linn, a psychologist at Judge Baker Children’s Center.  “But to lure young girls to its restaurants by promoting the worst sexualized stereotypes is reprehensible.”  

 

The McDonald’s Barbie promotion runs through October 28, 2007.  McDonald’s is giving away four scantily clad Barbies and four sets of Barbie bracelets during the four-week promotion.

 

“It’s ironic that McDonald’s is using an impossibly thin doll as an incentive for girls to visit their restaurants twice-a-week,” said Dr. Linn.  A McDonald’s Happy Meal contains as many as 710 calories and 28 grams of fat. 

 

In response to concerns about childhood obesity, McDonald’s has moved to position itself as a socially responsible marketer.  In June, as part of the food industry’s efforts to ward off regulation, the fast food giant pledged to change its marketing practices and to produce advertising that includes “healthy lifestyle messages” for children. 

 

“Putting rollerblades on Barbie doesn’t make it healthy messaging,” said CCFC’s Dr. Diane Levin, professor of education at Wheelock College and co-author of the forthcoming, So Sexy So Soon.  “These dolls send a host of harmful messages about play, appearance, sexuality and what it means to be a young girl."

 

In an effort to present itself as a family-friendly company, McDonald’s has enlisted a Global Moms Panel to “provide input and guidance on a broad range of topics,” including “restaurant communications and children’s well-being.”

 

“Parents all over the world are concerned about the sexualization of little girls,” said Dr. Linn.  “We hope that the Global Mom’s Panel will consider the well-being of their daughters, and other people’s daughters, by joining us in urging McDonald’s to end its exploitative Barbie promotion."

 

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Alex Molnar joins the CCFC Steering Committee; New Report Details School Commercialism Trends

 

We are thrilled to announce that Dr. Alex Molnar, Professor of Education Policy at Arizona State University, has joined the CCFC Steering Committee.  He is the country’s leading expert on marketing in schools and the author of several books including, Giving Kids the Business: The Commercialization of America's Schools and School Commercialism: From Democratic Ideal to Market Commodity

 

Alex is also the director of the Commercialism in Education Research Unit, which has just released an important new report, Adrift: Schools in a Total Marketing Environment, the Tenth Annual Report on Schoolhouse Commercialism Trends: 2006-2007.  A must-read for anyone concerned about the commercialization of our nation’s schools, the report is available http://epsl.asu.edu/ceru/CERU_2007_Annual_Report.htm.

 

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Free Resource for CCFC Members: Tips for Parenting in a Commercial Culture

 

A special offer for CCFC members! Our friends at the Center for the New American Dream are generously offering their essential resource “Tips for Parenting in a Commercial Culture” (a $5 value) for free to anyone who responds using this link.

 

Featuring CCFC’s Enola Aird, Allen Kanner, Joe Kelly, Diane Levin, Susan Linn and other leading experts on marketing to children, the 32-page guide children contains practical, hands-on tips for parents on how to raise healthy children in our highly commercial culture. The guide will give adults a greater understanding of what children face today, and to offer resources to help parents and concerned citizens band together to protect children from intrusive and harmful advertising. 

 

A must-have for any parent, “Tips for Parenting in a Commercial Culture” is also an excellent way to get others interested in countering the commercialization of childhood.  Get your free copy today!

 

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CCFC to Unilever:  “Bom Chicka Wah Wah” is not Real Beauty

 

Our campaign highlighting the Unilever’s hypocrisy  in promoting its Dove brand as girl-friendly while simultaneously using incredibly sexist and degrading imagery to promote its Axe male grooming line is picking up speed.  So far, the campaign has received coast (New York Times) to coast (LA Times) media coverage and inspired numerous discussions in the blogosphere. 

 

“The Axe campaign proves that a corporation whose profits depend on the success of its marketing messages cannot also have a vested interest helping children resist them,” said Bob McCannon, co-president of the Action Coalition for Media Education. “Unilever’s Dove Real Beauty campaign is corporate marketing masquerading as media literacy.” 

 

Help us keep the pressure on.  If you haven’t yet written to Unilever to urge them to ax the Axe campaign, please take a moment to do so.  And please, let your friends and family know about Unilever’s hypocrisy and CCFC’s campaign.

 

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Your Daughter’s Halloween Costume: Tips for Parents from DADs

 

The search for your daughter or stepdaughter’s Halloween costume can be treacherous, filled with over-sexed and stereotyped “choices.”  CCFC member organization Dads and Daughters has some great ideas from Lyn Mikel Brown, Ed.D. and Sharon Lamb, Ed.D., authors of Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters from Marketers’ Schemes,  to fight back and let her creativity sparkle!  http://www.dadsanddaughters.org/PDFs/HalloweenTips.pdf

 

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Come On People: On the Path from Victims to Victors by Bill Cosby and Alvin F. Poussaint, M.D.

 

This new book, by legendary comedian Cosby and CCFC’s Poussaint, a renowned psychiatrist at Judge Baker Children's Center, instantly ignited a national conversation about the dire crises facing America.  Written with love, respect, and sadness, the book illuminates a vision of for strengthening America by addressing the crisis of people frozen in feelings of low self-esteem, abandonment, anger, fearfulness, sadness, and tired of being used, undefended, and unprotected. By highlighting these issues and providing tools for change, Cosby and Poussaint help empower the daunting transition from victim to victor. It should be read by anyone who cares about the future of our children.

 

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Ana Lúcia Villela wins Brazil’s Top Education Award

 

Congratulations to CCFC member Ana Lúcia Villela—who sparked a growing and effective movement in Brazil to stop the commercial exploitation of children—who has just been awarded the prestigious Pensamento Nacional das Bases Empresariais Citizenship Award, Brazil’s top education award.  Ana Lúcia is the founder of the Instituto Alana, a non-profit organization that develops educational, cultural and social programs in low-income communities in São Paulo.  In 2005, Ana Lúcia attended CCFC’s 4th annual Consuming Kids Summit in Washington, DC.  Moved by what she heard and saw, she decided to make countering marketing to children a major program area of the Institute’s work.  In just two years, the Institute has already elevated the commercialism of childhood to a major national issue and helped foster important policy changes to protect children.  You can hear more about Ana Lúcia’s extraordinary work at the upcoming CCFC summit.  Congratulations, Ana Lúcia!

 

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Commentary:  Al Gore, Global Warming, and the Association of National Advertisers

By Susan Linn, EdD


I was excited when I heard that Al Gore spoke at the Association of National Advertisers' annual Masters of Marketing conference 24 hours after he won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his work on global warming.  After all, it was a great opportunity to get at one major source of environmental destruction—America’s addiction to consumption.  It was his chance to confront a major industry whose dedication to promoting gas guzzling SUVs, plastic toys, excess packaging—and materialistic values—is a direct threat to Gore’s mission to save the planet.

 

But Gore didn’t even mention global warming in his speech.  He wasn’t there to promote the health of the planet.  He was there to promote advertising—to help marketers better manipulate consumers and to spread the gospel about a marketing strategy embraced by Current TV, his Cable station for 18 to 24 year olds.  On Current TV, advertisers get young viewers to immerse themselves in brands by creating their own ads for sponsors like L’Oreal, Sony, T-Mobile, and Toyota.  Current TV’s latest call for consumer- generated advertising is for Drambuie—and remember, its target audience includes underage drinkers.

 

Hypocrisy is the norm in corporate advertising.  Unilever promotes positive body image for girls with one brand, while other brands sell diet aids and skin whitening cream.  Ronald McDonald goes into schools to teach healthy life styles while selling junk food.  But shouldn’t we expect more from a Nobel Peace Prize Winner?   Al Gore can either try to stop global warming, or make a kinder, gentler world for advertisers.  He can’t do both.

 

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