Monday, November 22, 2004

November 16, 2004
Contact: Dr. Susan Linn (617) 278-4282 slinn@jbcc.harvard.edu
For Immediate Release

PARENTS BEWARE: SPONGEBOB MOVIE RIFE WITH
COMMERCIALISM

Citing the film’s promotions with Burger King, Kellogg’s, and
Keebler, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood
(CCFC) is warning parents to beware of the excessive and
harmful levels of commercialism in the new SpongeBob
SquarePants Movie.

“This movie is essentially a ninety minute commercial for junk
food,” said CCFC’s Dr. Susan Linn, author of Consuming Kids:
The Hostile Takeover of Childhood. “Parents who take their
children to see the film should expect to be besieged with
requests for products from the movie’s promotional partners.”

Burger King is offering exclusive SpongeBob toys and watches
at its restaurants. Kellogg’s and Keebler have launched several
SpongeBob products to coincide with the movie, including
Kellogg’s SpongeBob SquarePants Movie Cereal, Keebler
SpongeBob SquarePants Movie E.L. Fudge Cookies, Kellogg’s
SpongeBob SquarePants Movie Rice Krispie Treats, and
Kellogg’s SpongeBob SquarePants Pop Tarts.

It has become commonplace for media characters popular with
children to adorn the packages of food products of dubious
nutritional value. Ever since rising to superstardom on
Nickelodeon, SpongeBob SquarePants has been ubiquitous in
grocery stores. In 2002, SpongeBob macaroni and cheese was
Kraft’s top-selling pasta brand. SpongeBob also fronts for
products such as SpongeBob SquarePants cereal, Cheez-Its, and
Wild Bubble-Berry Pop Tarts.

Marketing to children is a factor in childhood obesity. A
number of children’s health organizations – including the
American Academy of Pediatrics – have called for restrictions
on food marketing to children. The Institute of Medicine
recently called for a national conference to develop guidelines
for the advertising of foods and beverages directed at children.

Psychiatrist Alvin Poussaint of the Judge Baker Children’s
Center hopes that parents will factor in the film’s commercial
ties when deciding whether or not to let their children see
SpongeBob on the big screen. “The cost of this movie is more
than the price of a ticket. The nagging that marketers
deliberately and effectively cultivate can be extremely stressful
for families. And for those parents who give in, there are the
potential costs of childhood obesity and its attendant health
problems.”

The Campaign For A Commercial-Free Childhood (formerly
Stop Commercial Exploitation of Children) 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


Josh Golin
Action Coordinator
CCFC: Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood
jgolin@jbcc.harvard.edu
(617) 278-4172

4 comments:

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