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September 14, 2010
Contact:  Josh Golin (617-896-9369; josh@commercialfreechildhood.org)
For Immediate Release

Advocates Ask FCC to Stop Skechers Program-Length Commercial for Kids
Nicktoons' Zevo-3 Will Violate Children's Television Act's Ad Limits


UPDATE: September 22 -- The FCC responded today to CCFC's petition, opening an inquiry into Zevo-3, the Skechers show to be aired on Nicktoons. Click here to submit a comment to the FCC in support of the petition.

BOSTON -- September 14 -- Today, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission urging the FCC to rule that the upcoming broadcast of the animated children's program Zevo-3 on Nicktoons is not in the public interest.  Developed by Skechers, the footwear giant, Zevo-3 is the first children's television program to feature characters known to children only as commercial spokescharacters.

Zevo-3 features three superheroes whose only existence to date has been in television commercials and marketing materials designed to promote Skechers shoes to children.  Because the animated stars of Zevo-3--Kewl Breeze, Z-Strap, and Elastika--embody specific lines of shoes, the entire show will be an advertisement for the Skechers brand.  The broadcast of Zevo-3, therefore, will violate the requirement established by Congress in the Children's Television Act that that no cable operator shall air more than 10.5 minutes of commercial matter per hour during children's programming on weekdays.


"It's clear that Skechers and Nicktoons are flouting the policies established by Congress to protect children from excessive commercialism," said CCFC's Director, Dr. Susan Linn.  "Zevo-3 is a twenty-two minute commercial masquerading as a kids' TV show."    

In order to allay fears about the commercial nature of Zevo-3, the show's producers emphasize that the show will not include product placement.  But CCFC's petition conclusively demonstrates that the characters Kewl Breeze, Z-Strap, and Elastika are inextricably linked to the specific lines of shoes they promote.  

"The characters themselves are ads," said Dr. Linn. "Any television appearance by Kewl Breeze, Z-Strap, or Elastika--whether in a traditional commercial or on Zevo-3--should be considered commercial matter, regardless of whether the characters are wearing actual Skechers shoes."

The characters originated in comic books developed by Skechers in 2006 to promote their lines of children's shoes.  The comics, which are distributed in Skechers shoe boxes, are little more than thinly-veiled advertisements for Skechers shoes. For example, in one comic, a group of kids are able to defeat the evil Dr. Stankfoot after Kewl Breeze gives them Skechers Airators that have special cooling technology to combat foot odor. In another, the villain's shoe laces are his "weak spot," proving inferior to Z-Strap's Velcro fastener.  In 2007, Skechers began airing commercials featuring Kewl Breeze, Z-Strap, and Elastika during children's television programming.  The characters are so successful at promoting Skechers that retailers report that children often ask for shoes by character name rather than by shoe model.  The success of the comic book promotions and television commercials led the company to form Skechers Entertainment, which is producing Zevo-3.

To date, there has never been a children's television program based on commercial logos. In 1992, Fox Television planned to air Yo! It's the Chester Cheetah Show!, starring Frito-Lay's spokescharacter for Cheetos.  But plans for the show were scrapped after advocates petitioned the FCC.  In the intervening eighteen years, no children's television program based on spokescharacters was developed.  But now Skechers and Nicktoons could unleash a flood of hyper-commercialized children's programming.

Added Dr. Linn, "Zevo-3 is just the beginning.  What's next?  Programs like Clowning Around with Ronald McDonaldHave It Your Way with the Burger KingTony the Tiger Toons?  That's what we can expect--unless the FCC stands up for children and prevents companies like Skechers from violating laws that Congress enacted specifically to protect kids from such commercial exploitation."

 

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is a national coalition of health care professionals, educators, advocacy groups and concerned parents who counter the harmful effects of marketing to children through action, advocacy, education, research, and collaboration among organizations and individuals who care about children. CCFC is a project of Third Sector New England (www.tsne.org).
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Read the FCC Petition

Petition

Appendix
New! CCFC's Reply Comments
Links
Submit a comment to the FCC
FCC Announcement of Inquiry into Zevo-3

Skechers' Zevo-3 Sneak Preview Episode

 
Press
Making Sure Nickelodeon Hangs With the Cool Kids
New York Times, October 30, 2010
FCC To Decide if Nicktoons' Zevo-3 Is a Kids' Program or Advertisement
Yahoo! News, October 20, 2010
Give Advertainment the Boot
Boston Globe, October 12, 2010
Skechers Show a Hot Topic for FCC
Multichannel News, September 27, 2010
FCC Examines Complaint About Skechers Cartoon
Associated Press, September 22, 2010
FCC Examines Skechers Cartoon
Variety, September 23, 2010
FCC Probes Complaint That Cartoon Advertises Skechers Shoes
Washington Post, September 22, 2010
FCC Examines If Shoe Cartoon Oversteps Rules
Wall Street Journal (subscription required), September 23, 2010
FCCLooking at Nicktoons Cartoon 'Zevo-3' for Possible Regulatory Violations
L.A. Times, September 22, 2010
FCC Reviewing Whether TV Is Meant to Sell Kids Skechers
The Hill, September 22, 2010
FCC Seeks Comment on Zevo-3 Challenge
Multichannel News, September 22, 2010
FCC Opens Proceeding on Nicktoon's Skechers-character Cartoon
Radio Business Report, September 22, 2010

FCC Asked to Block Skechers' New Cartoon Series
Associated Press, September 14, 2010

Coming Children's Show Draws Complaints
New York Times, September 15, 2010
Skechers Cartoon Series Slammed in Petition
CBC News, September 15, 2010
FCC Asked to Block Nickelodeon Cartoon That's Reportedly a "Walking and Talking Ad" For Skechers Shoes
Mediaite, September 15, 2010
Group Asks FCC to Block Nicktoons Show
Hollywood Reporter, September 15, 2010
Product Placement In Kids' TV Programs: Stuff Your Footwear Can Slip On
MediaPost, September 16, 2010

 

 

     

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