The Disney approach to produce for kids

01/18/2013 09:12:00 AM
Pamela Riemenschneider

Pamela Riemenschneider, Aisle WanderingPamela Riemenschneider, Aisle WanderingWow.

That’s what I thought when I saw the news that Mom’s Organic Market sucked the joy out of childhood.

Well, maybe that’s a little harsh, but they’ve banned products with packaging featuring cartoon characters from “children’s books, films and TV.”

Those products will be replaced with organic alternatives in cartoon-free packaging.

What have they got against Dora the Explorer and Big Bird?

“Marketing to children is wrong and should be illegal,” said Scott Nash, founder and chief executive officer of the 10-store chain based in Rockville, Md., in a news release announcing the ban.

“Advertising is a shady game. It focuses on creating a shallow emotional attachment instead of pointing out the merits of a product. Unfortunately, it works — and young children are particularly susceptible.”

Nash had this epiphany after his 3-year-old begged for breakfast cereal because it had Clifford the Big Red Dog on the box.

I’m the mother of a 4-year-old and I can relate to this battle.

But marketing to kids is wrong and should be illegal?

Little appetite

Maybe I don’t want my son lured in by Chester Cheetah on a bag of Cheetos, or SpongeBob-branded Pop Tarts, but I also have no trouble with the word “no,” especially in the supermarket.

I also understand parents who want to keep the marketing messages away from their children’s food. Many of my friends don’t let their children watch TV, don’t buy branded character toys or clothing and try to keep their commercialism to a minimum. I’m sure they’d be ecstatic to hear about this move.

But I’ve also been in that position many parents find themselves in with a child who decides to be picky about food for no apparent reason.

And you know what, when my son went on a carb jag and wouldn’t eat anything but bread and butter, I got desperate and turned to Disney.

We ate some Goofy grape-flavored sliced apples, no matter how much my inner apple snob was crying because she thinks apples are tasty enough on their own. Phineas and Ferb guided us back to some healthful foods, and it was great.

We’re back to whole apples again, but I was happy to have the option.

Cartoon characters aren’t just for kids, either. Do you remember The Vidalia Onion Committee’s wildly successful Shrek “Onions and Ogres” campaign?

The program increased bagged onion sales by 30%, took home a slew of advertising awards and earned a mention on the front page of The Wall Street Journal.

Yes, onions were on the front page of The Wall Street Journal.

It would be great if junk food manufacturers would go to a less attractive package. Might I suggest plain brown paper?

That would make my shopping trips much easier.

But I’m all for doing whatever we can to get children to eat more fruits and vegetables. If that means the Mickey Mouse stamp of approval, then so be it.

pamelar@thepacker.com

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Bobby    
Portland, OR  |  March, 25, 2013 at 03:49 PM

I could not agree more...I wonder if Scott is just late to the party and is angry about all the Happy Meals that were marketed to children (with toys etc ). If we can get help from SpiderMan to have our children experience healthy eating, so be it. I am so sick and tired of people like Scott (or anyone) telling us what do do, what to say and how to act. Seems common sense is no longer common.

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