Pirates of the Caribbean Cauliflower...Argggh!
The Walt Disney Co. announced yesterday that from now on it would associate its characters and brand with foods that meet certain nutritional guidelines. The move is part of a larger effort by media, food, and beverage companies to do more to combat childhood obesity.
The announcement doesn't necessarily mean no more Incredibles Super Sundaes.
Disney will keep licensing indulgence foods such as birthday cakes. The company's goal is to limit the amount of such items to 15 percent of its licensed products.
Disney got high marks from a few kids marketing critics. But most wondered whether the giant media conglomerate would also pull junk food advertising from its networks, which include ABC and the ABC Family Channel. (FYI: The DIsney Channel doesn't accept outside advertising.)
Disney's response was it could have a bigger impact putting restrictions on how it licenses its characters than changing the lineup of commercials during three hours of Saturday morning cartoons.
Licensing is no doubt a powerful marketing tool. The way one parent put it, when it comes to deciding what junior is going to have for dinner, it's mom and dad versus SpongeBob. And Nemo. And Dora. And, hell, even Winnie the Pooh. Kids don't read nutrition labels. They only see their favorite cartoon characters.
Disney and Nickelodeon are going to find out if that's true by putting Mickey Mouse on boxes of "fruit dippers" and putting Dora the Explorer on bags of organic edamame.
To me, this is the most interesting part of the whole enterprise. Will kids start shoveling soybeans into their mouths as if they were M&Ms, just because their favorite cartoon character is on the packaging?
I'm a bit skeptical. I loved Snoopy as a kid but I wouldn't have traded carrots for Doritos if the entire Peanuts gang had been etched into each orange stick. Then again, I haven't been grocery shopping lately with anyone under the age of 30.
Calling all parents out there: Who's got more juice? You or SpongeBob? Will putting The Incredibles on broccoli make it edible to your kids? Can Jack Sparrow make your kids like cauliflower?
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