Shrek shills dietary dreck -- dump him

Chicago Sun-Times

April 30, 2007

Shrek, it seems, has a serious conflict of interest. The cartoon character, star of the upcoming "Shrek the Third," has been hired by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department for a healthy lifestyle and childhood obesity campaign. That would be all well and good -- Shrek is quite popular with the kids, after all -- if he wasn't also shilling for a variety of junk foods at the same time.

Consider: You can buy "ogre-sized" packages of M&Ms. You can buy Snickers candy bars with "green Shrek filling." You can buy Cheetos that turn your mouth green. You can buy Pop Tarts and Happy Meals and Pez dispensers and Rice Krispies Treats bars and sugary cereals and cookies, all with some sort of Shrek connection. The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood found 17 separate food promotions for Shrek featuring 70 different products, most of which could hardly be called healthy eating.

The Health Department says it won't drop its Shrek campaign, in which he urges kids to exercise, but it also won't run the ads during the film's run because it's not in the business of promoting movies. That may mitigate some of the mixed message. But the campaign is right: Shrek is hardly the ideal role model for promoting a healthy lifestyle. Fire the ogre.