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CCFC News - November 2010

Let’s Keep the Pressure on Scholastic: No Corn Syrup Sprees in the Classroom

More than 2,500 of you have already demanded that Scholastic end its partnership with SunnyD and stop promoting beverages of poor nutritional quality in preschools and elementary classrooms.  As part of the “SunnyD Book Spree,” students are asked to collect SunnyD labels and teachers are even encouraged to throw SunnyD parties in their classrooms—in exchange for 20 free Scholastic books.  Sweetened by both artificial sweeteners and high-fructose corn syrup, an 8-ounce serving of SunnyD contains a whopping 20 grams of sugar.

In response, Scholastic sent an email to CCFC supporters claiming that “The goal of the SunnyD Book Spree is to help classrooms build their book collections and provide children with valuable learning tools.”  Really?  As one of our members wrote back, there are ways for the country’s biggest educational publisher to help schools build libraries without encouraging students to drink SunnyD.

Scholastic’s rapid and disingenuous response demonstrates just how valuable its privileged standing with educators and parents is. After all, the company profits by selling access to students to companies like SunnyD.

So let’s keep the pressure on.  If you haven’t done so yet, please take a moment to write to Scholastic.  And please, share this action alert with friends and family, and on Facebook and Twitter.

CCFC Urges FCC to Pull the Plug on Sneaky Skechers Toon

Last week, CCFC filed extensive reply comments as part of the Federal Communications Commission’s proceeding to determine whether the cartoon Zevo-3 violates longstanding policies designed to protect children from overcommercialization.  Developed by Skechers and airing on Nicktoons, Zevo-3 is the first kids' program to feature characters known to children only as commercial spokescharacters.  The FCC’s important, precedent-setting proceeding was launched in response to a petition filed by CCFC.

Our reply, which was prepared by the Institute of Public Representation at Georgetown University, details how the vast majority of the 1,500+ comments from public health organizations, children’s media advocates, researchers, educators and parents support CCFC’s petition.  We also analyze comments filed by our opponents (MTV Networks, Skechers, and a coalition of advertising trade associations) and detail how their opposition—which is consistent with their economic self-interest rather than what is best for children—is based on omissions and misstatements of both fact and law.  Finally, we counter industry claims that granting the petition would present First Amendment problems.  We will be meeting with the FCC in December.  You can read our comments here: http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/pdf/replycommentsfinal.pdf.  Our original petition is here: http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/pdf/skechersfccpetition.pdf.

Great Resources for the Holidays

With the annual holiday advertising assault in full swing, we're pleased to share with you two great (and free!) resources for coping with the relentless hype:

CCFC's Guide to Commercial-Free Holidays features tips from leading activists, authors, and educators for reclaiming the holidays from corporate marketers.  Contributors include Enola Aird, Lyn Mikel Brown, Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Nathan Dungan, Nancy Gruver, Allen Kanner, Tim Kasser, Joe Kelly, Annie Leonard, Diane Levin, Karen Lewis and Susan Linn.

Now in its sixteenth edition, The TRUCE (Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children’s Entertainment) Toys, Play & Young Children Action Guide helps families with holiday toy gift-giving choices.  The Action Guide has been redesigned and updated this year and includes:

  • The importance of play for development and learning
  • Choosing toys that promote positive play
  • Avoiding toys that undermine creative play

The guide also suggests an alternative gift idea, the "Shoe Box Gift,” which promotes creative play around themes using common objects often found around the house.  In these difficult economic times, Shoe Box Gifts provide an appealing alternative to giving expensive store-bought toy gifts, and they are fun to create!

No Junk Food with a Side of Junk Toys in San Francisco


Earlier this month, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance that bans toy giveaways with kids’ meals that do not meet nutritional standards (currently no version of McDonald’s Happy Meals meets the standards).  While Mayor Gavin Newsome has vetoed the ordinance, Board Supervisor Eric Mar, who sponsored the legislation, thinks the Board will override the mayor's veto, because "reducing the consumption of junk food by kids could spare the health of millions and save billions of dollars to our over-strapped public health system. That's why pediatricians, educators, parents, community health advocates, and thousands of individuals lined up to support this ordinance."

Thanks so much to those of you in the Bay Area who contacted the Board and urged them to support the ordinance.  And congratulations to all the advocates, including our friends at the Value [the] Meal campaign, who worked tirelessly to secure its passage.  As Michele Simon writes in the CCFC blog, this important victory for children and public health, which came in the face of fierce industry opposition, was made possible by good old-fashioned organizing and coalition building.  Read more at http://commercialfreechildhood.blogspot.com/2010/11/happy-meal-makeover-how-healthy-food.html.

Fast Food Restaurants Ramp Up Kid-Targeted Marketing

Here’s why the San Francisco ordinance is so important: A new study from Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity—the most comprehensive study ever conducted of fast food nutrition and marketing—finds that fast food restaurants’ child-targeted advertising is actually increasing: preschoolers see 21% more fast food ads and older children 34% more than they did in 2003.  Not surprisingly, this marketing works: 40% of children aged 2 to 11 ask their parents to go to McDonald's at least once a week and 15% of preschoolers ask to go every day.  84% of parents report taking their 2- to 11-year-old child to a fast food restaurant at least once in the past week. Of 3,039 possible kids’ meal combinations, only 12 meet nutritional criteria for preschoolers while 15 do for older children.

The study also details how minority children are extensively targeted with ads for fast food.  For example, in 2009 African American children and teens saw at least 50% more fast food ads on TV than their white peers.

And what about the food industry’s much heralded self-regulation efforts?  Since pledging to improve their food marketing to children in 2006, both Burger King and McDonald’s have increased their advertising to children and teens.  That’s why CCFC’s Allen Kanner told Katie Couric that, “Self regulation is a trick, it's a farce, it's a joke.”  You can learn more about the findings at http://www.fastfoodmarketing.org/.

Recommended Viewing: Susan Linn Gets Fearless

Earlier this year, Alex Bogusky, one of the country's most successful advertising executives, shocked the marketing world when he called for an end to all advertising aimed at children.  Last month, he hosted CCFC’s Susan Linn on Fearless Q&A, his web-based talk show, for a lively discussion about what advertising is doing to our children.  Tune in for a fascinating exchange about why advertisers should leave kids alone, what the world might look like if they did, and who’s that dude whispering in your child’s ear at the dinner table: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOD1kst1MWI.
Call for Proposals: ACME’s National Conference

The Action Coalition for Media Education (ACME) will hold its national conference in Boston on April 7, 2011, the day before Free Press' National Conference for Media Reform.  Featured speakers include CCFC’s Susan Linn, Jean Kilbourne, and Bob McChesney.  If you are interested in presenting at the conference, please visit http://acmecoalition.org/files/ACME%20_RFP_Final.pdf.   We’ll also keep you posted about how you can register for this important event.

Support CCFC

We rely on you because we will not compromise our commitment to children by accepting corporate funding. To make your tax-deductible donation please visit: http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/donate.

 
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