For Immediate Release
Parents to Nickelodeon, Disney, and Cartoon Network: Pull the Plug on PG-13 Ads
BOSTON - As the film industry ramps up its annual summer advertising assault
promoting violent blockbusters to young children, the Campaign for a
Commercial-Free Childhood has launched a letter-writing campaign urging major
children's television networks to stop airing advertisements for PG-13
movies and their related merchandise before 8:00 PM. The PG-13 rating
states that parents should be "strongly cautioned" that "material may be
inappropriate for children under thirteen." This spring, CCFC found
more than 2,000 commercials promoting Iron Man 2 - rated PG-13
"for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence" - before 8:00 PM
on the Nickelodeon, Nick Toons, Disney XD, and the Cartoon Network.
"It's wrong for children's
television networks to profit by advertising violent media to young
children," said CCFC's Director Dr. Susan Linn. "Nickelodeon, Disney,
and the Cartoon Network all claim to be family-friendly, but they are
aiding and abetting the film industry its efforts to seduce young
children, and convince their parents that these violent, PG-13 movies
are appropriate for kids as young as preschoolers."
CCFC's research conclusively
demonstrates violent PG-13 films are extensively marketed to young
children through ads on children's networks when a disproportionate
number of their youngest viewers are watching. CCFC monitored
programming where children under twelve-including large numbers of
children under six- typically make up more than 50% of the audience for
the programming. The more than 2,000 advertisements promoting Iron
Man 2 included commercials for the film itself, as well as ads for Iron
Man 2 toys and Burger King Iron Man Kids Meals that promote the
film and foster the false impression that it's appropriate for young
children. Last summer, during the same programming, CCFC found more
than 5,000 commercials promoting Star Trek, Transformers:
Revenge of the Fallen, and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.
Commercials promoting Iron Man 2 ran
on popular children's shows ranging from Jimmy Neutron to Pokémon
to Garfield. In a report to Congress in December, the Federal Trade
Commission documented the widespread marketing of PG-13 movies to
children under thirteen. The FTC also found that studios conducted
market research for PG-13 movies on children as young as seven.
"Marketing violent PG-13 movies on
children's television programming is harmful to children." said Dr.
Nancy Carlsson-Paige, author of Taking Back Childhood and a CCFC
Steering Committee member. "Research shows that children are more
affected by the violent acts they see on the screen than adults and that
they are less able to understand them in the context of character,
motive, and plot. Because of this, children are especially vulnerable
to the desensitizing effects of violence in entertainment."
Since 2007, CCFC has called for
restrictions on the marketing of PG-13 movies to young children.
Marketing movies directly to young children that the film industry
itself has declared may be inappropriate for children under thirteen
sends a confusing message to parents by undermining the integrity and
effectiveness of the rating system. As a result of CCFC's efforts, the
Federal Trade Commission is urging the Motion Picture Association of
America to develop an explicit policy ensuring that PG-13 movies are
marketed in a manner consistent with their rating. So far, the MPAA has
"The children's networks are as
culpable as the film industry," added Dr. Linn. "They are the conduit
through which violence-packed blockbusters become must-see events for
elementary and preschool children. The networks court parents' trust,
but there is nothing family-friendly about selling young children on
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).