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April Newsletter

 

Newsletter Archives

 

In this Issue:    

 

-Consuming Kids Sweeps the Nation

-CCFC Blasts New Hasbro/Discovery Channel Children's Network

-SpongeBob SquareButts: An Update

-Marin Institute Publishes New Guide for Regulating Alcohol Advertising

-Channel 1 Promoting Drinking Quiz Website

-Book Review: Free Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy

-CCFC Member Spotlight

 

 


Consuming Kids Sweeps the Nation

consuming kids DVDMore than forty public screenings – and dozens of private ones – of the acclaimed film Consuming KidsThe Commercialization of Childhood have already been planned by CCFC members around the country.  The film, which features CCFC staff and Steering Committee members, is the perfect way to raise awareness about the commercialization of childhood, connect with local parents and activists, and support the work of CCFC.

The first screenings in Berkeley and Palo Alto each drew more than 100 people.  In Memphis, the Mid South Peace and Justice Center and Mothers Acting Up will be serving popcorn and hoping for nice weather for an outdoor screening.   In Arlington, Massachusetts, CCFC member Leslie B. has invited her town’s board of education and local representatives to a screening at the public library.  The West Annapolis Moms will gather for a screening at the home of CCFC member Jennifer M.  And in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, Dianna M is taping the post-film discussion to show on public access television.   

To find a screening near you, please visit http://consumingkids.bravenewtheaters.com/screenings.
If there isn’t one near you, please visit http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/events/consumingkids.html to learn how to host our own.  You’ll find tips for finding a venue and publicizing your event, as well as suggestions for discussion questions, ideas for reclaiming childhood from corporate marketers, CCFC sign up sheets, and more. Once you've listed your screening on Brave New Theaters, please email CCFC to find out how to purchase the film at the Media Education Foundation's significantly discounted price of $24.95 for CCFC members.

 

 


CCFC Blasts New Hasbro/Discovery Channel Children’s Network

Today, toymaker Hasbro Inc and the cable-TV programmer Discovery Channel announced that they will form a joint venture to create a TV network and website with new programming based on Hasbro brands such as My Little Pony, Tonka, and G.I. Joe. CCFC immediately responded with the following statement and call for FCC action:

“This partnership represents a new low in children’s television, a network devoted to showing infomercials for Hasbro’s toys and games.   It will make a mockery of existing ad limits and the current prohibition of product placement in children’s television.

The planned network is the latest indication that the deregulation of children’s television has been an unmitigated disaster for children and families; no longer do companies feel compelled to even pretend that their programming is beneficial for children or about anything but pushing product.  We hope that the FCC takes a long, hard look at this new venture as they consider whether their current restrictions on embedded advertising are adequate to protect children.”

 


SpongeBob SquareButts: An Update

king measures but

“I don’t know what could be more iconoclastic in puncturing the myth of how self- image of a body for a woman would look than to make her butt square with a telephone book in it.” 

~ Burger King President of Global Marketing Russell Klein in a televised debate with CCFC’s Steering Committee Member Joe Kelly

Despite nearly 10,000 letters from CCFC members – many of whom say they will no longer eat at Burger King -- and a host of bad publicity, the controversial SpongeBob SquareButts commercial continues to air. Burger King insists that the commercial for Kids Meals, featuring one of the most popular kids cartoon characters, is aimed at adults.  They’ve yet to explain why the “adult ad” has run on American Idol, the top-rated show for children under twelve; on the ABC Family Channel on weekend mornings; or during a Sunday afternoon showing of the animated film Madagascar.

Meanwhile, Nickelodeon has barely commented on the use of one of their most popular characters in a commercial that objectifies women.   Given the recent announcement that Nick plans to make a tween version of Dora the Explorer, we can’t help but wonder if there is a trend to make Nick’s characters edgier in order to maintain their appeal to children as they grow up.

 


Marin Institute Publishes New Guide for Regulating Alcohol Advertising

Our friends at Marin Institute have created a critical tool for advocates and legislators to protect youth from out-of-home (OOH) alcohol advertising.  The guide will help policymakers draft effective state and local laws to minimize youth exposure to ubiquitous alcohol advertising in the 21st century.  Out-of-home advertising encompasses traditional billboards, ads plastered on public transit vehicles, buildings and “street furniture” such as newspaper stands and kiosks, as well as new high-tech options like video display terminals, digital billboards, and ambient advertising. Spending on such advertising venues grew to over $8 billion dollars in 2008.

The guide includes examples of current local and state alcohol advertising laws that can serve as models, as well as an explanation of commercial speech and the First Amendment. The OOH guide also describes the difference between public and private property and how advocates can push for legally-defensible laws in their communities.   Click here to get your copy.

 


Obligation, Inc. Catches Channel One Promoting Drinking Quiz Website

ChannelOne.com, the website of the controversial in-school commercial network, recently added a new section of “Cool Links” to its website.  Among the new links:  Quiz Rocket, a website where the kids who click through from Channel One’s site can take quizzes such as “Which (alcoholic) Drink Are You” and the “The Beer Quiz” which asks questions like when is your favorite time to drink beer?  After Channel One watchdog Obligation, Inc. wrote about the new links, they immediately disappeared.  We shudder to think what Channel One would promote to schoolchildren if advocates weren’t tracking their every move.  For more, please visit http://www.obligation.org/channelonehome.php
alcohol quizzes

 

 

 

 

 

 




Book Review:  Free Range Kids:  Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry by Lenore Skenazy

book cover

In 2008, when Lenore Skenazy wrote a newspaper column about letting her nine-year-old ride the subway alone in New York City, it touched off a media firestorm and critics dubbed her “America’s Worst Mom.”  Surprised at the reaction, Skenazy began to ask how fear has reshaped parenthood and childhood alike.  The result is a provocative and often hilarious book that asks and answers important questions like why are we so quick to judge other parents, do children really need to be supervised by adults every second of every day, and why isn’t Halloween fun anymore?  By examining actual data on phenomenon ranging from stranger abductions to razor blades in candy, Skenazy punctures many of the myths that keep parents living in a state of constant fear and keep children inside the house or constantly under the watchful and worried gaze of adults.

What does any of this have to do with the commercialization of childhood?  Plenty, it turns out.  Many of the activities that parents are afraid to let children participate in – playing outside unsupervised, for instance – are decidedly noncommercial.  No one benefits more than the marketers if parents perceive the outside world as so scary that they feel compelled to keep children inside and engaged with screens.  Just as fear is marketed to parents, so are products, from Baby Einstein to Baby Knee Pads (seriously),  designed to address those marketing-created fears.  Highly readable and often laugh-out-loud funny, Free Range Kids belongs on every parent’s bookshelf.

 

 


CCFC Member Spotlight: Ashley Streetman

eat mor chikin

When Ashley Streetman received a letter from her child’s elementary school encouraging  families to “Eat Mor Chikin” at Chick-fil-A as a school fundraiser, she was immediately concerned.  So she researched the program, as well as other corporate fundraisers her school was involved with, and sent a letter to the school, her local PTO, and school district officials.

In addition to demonstrating how inefficient these fundraisers were at raising money, Ashley wrote, “Each of these programs promotes the consumption of questionable products to students and families under the guise of supporting education . . . (S)chools and supporting organizations are engaged to exploit their relationships with children for the sake of developing brand preferences—notably to unhealthy products and consumption lifestyles—at an early age.  The school audience is a captive audience as children are generally required by law to attend school and families have no means to ‘opt-out’ of marketing campaigns.”

Her letter is a model of good advocacy.  It’s passionate, clear, and supported by research.  Just as important, she provides alternatives to corporate fundraising (e.g. direct or in-kind donations where 100% of the money goes to the school) and offers to assist in those efforts.  We don’t know whether Ashley will be successful in ending her school’s corporate fundraisers, but we do know she’s started an important conversation.  We’re grateful she’s given us permission to share her letter and hope other parents will use it as a model for challenging the presence of corporate fundraisers/marketing in schools.  You can read her letter here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Support CCFC.  We rely on our members because we will not compromise our commitment to children by accepting corporate funding. To make a tax-free contribution, please visit http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/donate.

 

 

     

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