On June 18,
Senator Tom Harkin unveiled the HeLP (Healthy Lifestyles and Prevention)
America Act with important provisions to restrict food marketing in schools and
restore the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) authority to regulate all
advertising to children.
In 1978, after a
thorough review of research that demonstrated marketing to young children is
inherently unfair because they do not understand its persuasive intent, the FTC
proposed a ban on advertising to children under eight. Worried about losing
access to a lucrative market, the affected industries lobbied Congress and their
efforts were rewarded. Congress sided with corporations over the public
interest, and, in 1980, rescinded the FTC’s power to regulate advertising to
child-directed marketing has escalated exponentially with virtually no
government oversight. Under current law, it is more difficult to regulate
advertising to children than to adults! The Harkin bill is an important step
towards fixing the problem. By restoring the FTC’s authority to control
children’s marketing, we will have the regulatory structure needed to fight back
against an advertising industry run amok.
The coalition to
Stop Commercial Exploitation of Children and Free Press have launched a national
campaign in support of this important legislation. Tell your senators to support
the Harkin Bill!
Some facts about
marketing to children:
In 2002, corporations spent at
least than $15 billion on marketing to children.
On average, children see
40,000 television commercials a year alone.
Marketing is a factor in the
childhood obesity epidemic. Since 1980, the number of overweight kids in the
U.S. between 6 and 11 years of age doubled, while the number
tripled for those 12 to 17 years old
Marketing also encourages
eating disorders, precocious sexuality, youth violence and family stress.
In their effort to establish
cradle-to-grave brand loyalty, marketers even target babies.
Eighty-five percent of
Americans would to make children’s programming commercial free.
Even the advertising industry
seems to sense something is wrong with the current “anything goes” marketing
climate. Seventy-seven percent of respondents to an Advertising Age
poll believe there is a direct link between TV ads and childhood obesity.