The Walt Disney Company made an announcement today concerning the type of advertising they will allow on their kid-friendly web sites, radio and television stations. The move by Disney is designed to curb childhood obesity and requires advertisers to meet a strict set of nutritional rules. These standards will also be enforced on the Saturday morning cartoons that are run on stations owned by Disney, like ABC.
Disney’s decision will obviously result in some lost advertising revenue, but the company believes that the end outcome is more important. Due to current contracts that are in place, these changes will not take place until 2015. At that time the new standards will apply to programming targeted at children 12 and younger.
Some of the products that will be excluded under the new restrictions include Capri Sun drinks, Kraft Lunchables, candy, sugared cereal and fast food. Disney isn’t just enforcing higher nutrition standards, they are also changing the food served in their parks. They plan to reduce the sodium on all of the children’s meals served at their theme parks by 25 percent.
The initiative will also include public service announcement commercials that will encourage kids to exercise and eat healthy. Disney’s chairman, Robert A. Iger, shared his views on why this move is necessary. “Companies in a position to help with solutions to childhood obesity should do just that. This is not altruistic. This is about smart business,” he said.
There will be a press conference today with first lady Michelle Obama to reveal this new initiative. The first lady issued a statement showing her support for this move by Disney. “With this new initiative, Disney is doing what no major media company has ever done before in the U.S. — and what I hope every company will do going forward,” Mrs. Obama said.
One of the most visible parts of this advertising change will be the Mickey Check logo. This logo will be featured on products licensed by Disney that meet a certain standard of calories, saturated fat, sodium and sugar. The logo includes a pair of Mickey Mouse ears, and a green check mark with the slogan, “Good For You – Fun Too!” We applaud Disney’s effort to put health and marketing above their bottom line of advertising revenue. Hopefully others will follow so that food companies improve their nutrition and change their advertising messages.