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April 23, 2008

Contact: Josh Golin (617-896-9369; josh<at>commercialfreechildhood.org)

For Immediate Release
 


Burger King Has It Their Way with PG-13 Iron Man
Cross-Promotions for Children as Young as Three

 


Citing the inherent hypocrisy in the upcoming cross-promotions between Burger King and the PG-13 film Iron Man, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is calling on Burger King to pull a planned toy giveaway based on the film. According to a report in Advertising Age’s Madison and Vine, Iron Man includes Burger King product placement. Burger King, in turn, will be promoting the Paramount film with toys in their Kids Meals for children three and up. Even as childhood obesity and youth violence are significant public health problems, a major fast food company and a major motion picture studio are working together to promote junk food and violence to children.

Last September, as part of its commitment as a member of the Council of Better Business Bureau’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, Burger King pledged to not “approve, pay for, or actively seek the placement of BURGER KING® food or beverage products in the program/editorial content of any medium in the United States primarily directed to children under 12 years old.”

“If Burger King believes it is inappropriate to target children under twelve with product placement, why are they encouraging children as young as three to see a film with Burger King product placement?” asked CCFC’s Director Dr Susan Linn, author of The Case for Make Believe. “When it comes to marketing to kids, Burger King wants to have it their way; linking its brand to a blockbuster film clearly trumps any concerns about children’s wellbeing.”

Iron Man is rated PG-13 for “intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, and brief suggestive content.” According to The New York Times, the film’s hero is imprisoned by “malevolent jihadi forces in Afghanistan.”

“It is also troubling that Burger King and Paramount are promoting a violent film about terrorism to preschool children,” said Dr. Linn. “By undermining the film’s rating, they are sending a confusing message to parents and increasing the chance that young children will see a film that’s likely to be extremely unsettling for them. We shouldn’t be exposing children as young as three to violence and terrorism in order to sell them on fast food.”

In response to CCFC’s 2007 Federal Trade Commission complaint about the marketing of the PG-13 film Transformers to preschool children, the Motion Picture Association of American announced that it would review advertisements for PG-13 films on children’s television programming. Yet the film industry’s new self-regulatory efforts are not keeping Burger King from promoting PG-13 films to children under twelve. On Tuesday, April 22, 2008, CCFC found advertisements for the Burger King Iron Man Kids Meal promotion that herald the film’s May 2 release on Nickelodeon during Fairly Odd Parents and SpongeBob SquarePants. Both programs are rated TV-Y7, meaning “designed for children age 7 and above.”

“This backdoor marketing of Iron Man to young children is the latest indication that self-regulatory efforts from the film industry and the food industry are not serving the needs of children and families,” said Dr. Linn.

 

 

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