The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood denounced the Childrens Advertising Review Unit (CARU), the advertising industrys self-appointed regulatory body, for endorsing a new campaign by General Mills to sell sugary cereals to young children.
The General Mills campaign features commercials for cereals such as Trix, Cocoa Pebbles, and Lucky Charms, immediately preceded or followed by faux public service announcements touting the benefits of eating breakfast, thus creating the impression that these sugary cereals are a healthy choice for children. Elizabeth Lascoutx, CARUs director, claimed the campaign will encourage healthful behavior and declared, This is exactly what a leader in the food industry should be doing.
Endorsing this campaign is exactly what a regulatory agency should not be doing, responded CCFCs Dr. Allen Kanner, co-editor of Psychology and Consumer Culture. Targeting children with ads for sugar cereals disguised as PSAs is cynical, deceitful, and manipulative. CARU should demand that General Mills immediately end this campaign. That they chose instead to endorse it simply proves what weve suspected all along: CARU is a PR firm for the advertising industry and their clients, not a legitimate regulatory body.
This is just more evidence that the advertising industry is unwilling or incapable of regulating itself, added Alvin F. Poussaint, MD of the Judge Baker Childrens Center. Childhood obesity is a critical public health problem. If we are serious about addressing it and other marketing related problems for children, we should start by recognizing that self-regulation has failed. Its time to consider legislation, like Senator Tom Harkins HeLP America Act, that would restore the governments ability to regulate an industry that brazenly disregards childrens health.
To learn more about the advertising industrys failed experiment in self-regulation, please see CCFCs comments for the upcoming Federal Trade Commission workshop on Marketing, Self-Regulation, and Childhood Obesity: http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/comments/ftcsummary.htm.
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 supports the rights of children to grow up and the rights of parents to raise them without being undermined by rampant consumerism. For more information, please visit: www.commercialfreechildhood.org