On the same day, these two releases related to national efforts to prevent obesity:
The report, It’s Child’s Play: Advergaming and the Online Marketing of Food to Children, found that more than eight out of ten (85%) of the top food brands that target children through TV advertising also use branded websites to market to children online. Unlike traditional TV advertising, these corporate-sponsored websites offer extensive opportunities for visitors to spend an unlimited amount of time interacting with specific food brands in more personal and detailed ways. For instance, the study documents the broad use of “advergames” (online games in which a company’s product or brand characters are featured, found on 73% of the websites) and viral marketing (encouraging children to contact their peers about a specific product or brand, found on 64% of sites). In addition, a variety of other advertising and marketing tactics are employed on these sites, including sweepstakes and promotions (65%), memberships (25%), on-demand access to TV ads (53%), and incentives for product purchase (38%).
Then in USA Today -
On Wednesday, Nickelodeon will announce plans to put images of cartoon stars SpongeBob and Dora on packs of apples, pears, cherries and edamame (soybeans).
The move comes just one year after SpongeBob and Dora — each with about $2 billion in annual sales of consumer licensed products — first appeared on packages of carrots and Clementines. Entertainment rivals from Sesame Workshop to Disney have increasingly linked their most popular cartoon characters with fruits and veggies...
The more prevalent use of SpongeBob and Dora is to market sugary cereals, ice cream or candy, says Susan Linn, co-founder of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. "Until companies stop marketing junk food to children, it's hard to see putting media characters on produce as anything but window dressing."
Well-intentioned people can point to a variety of possible causes, contributors and remedies for the obesity epidemic among our nation's youth and adults. The question is whether and when policy makers and public health people begin to counter the many commercial marketing practices that are being identified through research as contributing to the obesity problem with social marketing insights and strategies - or cheat by relying on policy and regulatory initiatives? It is, after all, a struggle in the marketplace of ideas and behaviors.