CSPI acknowledges that the DreamWorks tie-ins for its characters on food packaging do include some food companies that make healthy foods, and others that are members of the voluntary industry standards initiative, the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI). Partners for Madagascar 3 include McDonald’s, General Mills, SunMaid, Blue Bunny Ice Cream, Lance Bakery, and Dole.
However, it singled out a tie-in with Snyder’s-Lance in particular for character advertising on packages of Nekot Cookies and Sandwich Crackers, “which are of poor nutritional value.”
“Synder’s-Lance does not have nutrition standards for foods marketed to children and does not belong to the CFBAI,” CSPI said in a letter to DreamWorks.
No one at Snyder’s-Lance responded to a request for comment prior to publication.
CSPI also urged DreamWorks to join the CFBAI and set its own standards for food marketed to children.
“We recognize that the criteria for entertainment companies may be somewhat different than for food companies,” the letter said. “However, working through the CFBAI framework would provide transparency, credibility, and monitoring of your marketing to children.”
It added that although a number of factors contribute to children’s poor diets, the Institute of Medicine has concluded that marketing to children affects their choices, food purchase requests, diets and health.
The CFBAI was set up in 2006 with the stated aim of “shifting the mix of advertising messaging directed to children under 12 to encourage healthier dietary choices and healthy lifestyles”. Seventeen food and beverage companies are currently members of the initiative, representing about 80% of total food advertising aimed at children, according to the program’s own figures.
Elaine Kolish, director of CFBAI and vice president CBBB, said: “I am delighted that CSPI continues to encourage companies to join CFBAI and to adopt our standards for child-directed advertising. We always welcome new participants.”
The Walt Disney Company rolled out new advertising standards for kids’ programming last month, which CSPI praised as putting it “ahead of the pack”.