Currently, Children’s Claritin can be found on the shelf covered in the characters from the latest Madagascar cartoon. Some packages even contain stickers of the characters. As a further joint marketing tactic, the company has reached out to bloggers who use the product and throw big movie watch parties for them. The parties are complete with DVDs and even product samples.
Advocacy groups against this type of marketing are not amused. The Public Health Advocacy Institute is calling these strategies “unfair and deceptive.” They’re also calling out the fact that these same characters can be found on food products – specifically gummy snacks – which can lead to confusion between medicine and candy for children.
This is fresh off the tails of other product complaints concerning children’s advertising as well. Monsanto, the huge GMO company, recently released a children’s activity book that was full of playful ‘facts’ about genetically modified foods. Additionally, the controversial children’s books “Vegan is Love” and “That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals” have gotten advocates talking as well as they are attempts to express one point of view in a very child-friendly manner.
I think there’s a difference though. Claritin is advertising, the others are advocating. Putting cartoons on a medication does not make a statement about right or wrong, better or worse. It’s advertising. And if I’m buying my son medication he needs and one has fun stickers, I’d probably get him the one with stickers. If he’s with me and thinks he needs a medication because it has cartoons on it, I’d explain, “that is medicine, you can’t have that.”
No law about marketing to children will mean the end of common-sense parenting. And as far as the confusion between medication and candy goes, we’ve been dealing with this since before vitamins were shaped liked The Flintstones. Keep your medication out of reach and secured from your children, regardless of whether they have cartoons on them or not.
Merck is a money-making company and it seems they are doing a great job making and keeping loyal customers. If you fall into the tiny percentage of people who actually uses the product and isn’t pleased with the marketing, guess what? You have a choice, don’t buy it. It’s just marketing, no harm done.
June 21st, 2012