ABC's Lisa Stark Pours Cold Milk on Advertising Trend
Whatâ€™s next, a â€śDateline NBCâ€ť sting operation to snag Toucan Sam?
Basing her story on a July 19 study by the liberal Kaiser Family Foundation, ABCâ€™s Lisa Stark offered the audience of the July 26 â€śWorld News Tonightâ€ť a look at the â€śWild Westâ€ť world of food marketing on the Internet geared to kids, complete with flashy games on company Web sites.
The Kaiser report found that â€śmore than eight out of ten (85%) of the top food brands that target children through TV advertising also use branded websites to market to children online.â€ť
But rather than presenting the development as a safer Internet pastime for children then chatting with complete strangers or looking up pornographic Web sites, Stark suggested the advertising development is a danger to children that needs to be regulated.
â€śOn television, there are regulations on marketing to kids, a limit on the amount of ad time on a childrenâ€™s show for example, but online, itâ€™s wide open,â€ť complained Stark, who went on to conclude her story lamenting the trend was â€śonly likely to get worse.â€ť
To bolster her complaint, Stark trotted out Yale School of Healthâ€™s Dr. David Katz to gripe that cereal Web sites are â€śthe Wild West of food advertising for childrenâ€ť with â€śno rules out thereâ€ť to control content.
Yet Starkâ€™s expert is no dispassionate medical professional. The Yale doctor signed a petition circulated by the left-wing Center for a Commercial Free Childhood that attacked â€śpurveyors of junk foodâ€ť for using â€śpublic schools as a platform for their marketing campaignsâ€ť to â€ścorral a captive audience of impressionable children.â€ť
Simply put, Katz attacked food companies for the â€śepidemicâ€ť of fat kids, a decidedly liberal point of view that Stark failed to mention.
â€śWe think it is possible to be a responsible marketer and to provide some fun online for kids,â€ť Daigler told ABC, before Stark rebutted.
â€śParents donâ€™t buy it,â€ť Stark insisted, presenting mother Susan Wertheim as a spokeswoman for parents everywhere. â€śWho needs one more place, one more front that you have to tell your kid no, I didnâ€™t really want you to have Lucky Charms for breakfast today,â€ť Wertheim complained.
ABC News is hardly alone in hyping marketing to kids as a health danger. On December 7, 2005, the Business & Media Institute recorded how CBSâ€™s Julie Chen called cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePantsâ€™s appearance on food packages as â€śvery powerful stuffâ€ť that was â€śnot unlike, for example, Joe Camel.â€ť