I've written before about Corporate Accountability International, which carries an impressive record of effectiveness into its current effort to halt the marketing of fast food to children. That includes their "Retire Ronald" campaign.
Whatever anyone might think of that (they favor legal restrictions far less than they favor getting corporations to change their methods in response to the public's "guidance"), I think it is valuable to keep in mind how effective the companies must think this advertising is, based on the billions and billions they spend on it, $4.2 billion in 2009, according to the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University.
Here's some of the Rudd Center says that money purchased:
Every day, the average preschooler saw 2.8 fast food ads on television, the average child saw 3.5, and the average teen saw 4.7. Teens listened to approximately one radio ad per day. Children were exposed to more than 1,200 traditional fast food ads per year while teens saw and heard more than 2,000.
Can anyone honestly say that any commercial message pounded into the heads of impressionable youths that often *could* be a good influence? Not, "do the marketers have the right?" which they do. But is that a good influence on the most defenseless of our kind, regarding one of the building blocks of life, food?
The usual rejoinder is that parents should make the decisions about what their kids see, and I don't disagree. But that reminds me of those pages-long contracts that people must click "agree" on before getting whatever download or service is onscreen at the moment. Who reads those? You just click OK and move on, right? That's what parents are doing when they plunk their kids down in front of the TV. Yes, parents "should" make those decisions, but does that mean we should disregard the effects when they don't?
One out of every three kids in America has a weight problem.