Posts filed under ‘Marketing to Kids’

Whatever Happened to Parental Responsibility?

By Mike Kolbrener

The week’s Advertising Age reports that even after Big Food, 11 major food marketers including Kellogg, Kraft Foods, General Mills and Unilever, voluntarily shifted or eliminated $1 billion in kid-targeted junk-food marketing, critics, watchdogs and regulators such as Federal Trade Commission’s Jon Leibowitz are now pressing for more restrictions on more marketers including media companies. They are going after Viacom, Time Warner, the TV Networks as well as ConAgra, Chuck E. Cheese and Burger King.

The FTC is preparing subpoenas for 44 food and fast-food companies to examine how they are marketing products to kids. What does this mean? Coca-Cola and Hershey’s won’t aim advertisements at kids younger than 12. Mars/Masterfoods won’t advertise any of its candies to kids. PepsiCo, Kraft Foods, Kellogg, General Mills, McDonald’s, Unilever and Campbell Soup will limit all their marketing of food to children younger than 12 to more healthy foods. No more Cap’n Crunch. No more “Silly Rabbit” (Trix). No more Count Chocula. Possibly, no more Happy Meals. These developments make me take pause and ask whatever happened to parental responsibility? I don’t see kids younger than 12 checking-out at the grocery store. I’ve never witnessed an 8-year-old placing their order at McDonald’s or Burger King.

Does Congress really need to mandate a study of how products are advertised to kids? Rather than following in the footsteps of “No Child Left Behind”, another federal initiative that has removed parental accountability in the education of our nation’s children, maybe Congress should look at the state of parenting in America. When I was 8 years old in 1980, there were advertisements for Cap’n Crunch during Speed Racer, Big League Chewing Gum during GI Joe, and Hershey bars during the Justice League.

I could have probably sung the Big Mac song, word for word. This didn’t mean I ate Cap’n Crunch for breakfast every morning, chewed gum and devoured Hershey bars all day and ate at McDonald’s every night. Why? My parents. My parents dictated my diet. My parents were involved in my education. My parents . . . well, they were freakin parents. Today, I see too many parents shifting the blame and not taking on the responsibility they should. It’s not my fault or Billy’s fault he’s failing, it’s the teacher, the school, or the school district. It’s not my fault Cindy isn’t healthy.

“It’s all the marketing for the junk-food. I’m compelled to buy it for her.” Really?! I do applaud Big Food for the steps they have taken, but I am equally dismayed as to why they need to.

October 6, 2009 at 4:40 pm 2 comments


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