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Mock pack: Disney imposes advertising freeze for unhealthy products in children's programs
At first, everyone seemed excited about Disney's new business policy: By 2015, all commercials for unhealthy, high-fat and sugar-rich foods should disappear from the in-house programs for children. Disney boss Bob Iger announced on Tuesday that the company wants to act actively against the increasing obesity of children. However, media experts suspect that it is a clever campaign to win a new customer group.
Disney's image is suffering
Brightly colored and always in a good mood - the Disney marketing concept is well received. In addition to children's programs such as Disney Channel or Disney XD, the group generates its record sales primarily from amusement parks and the sale of countless licensed products. But the emphatically clean Disney image only delivers what it promises at first glance. The founder of the media group, Walt Disney, already expressed strange views. In 1957, for example, he promoted the oh-so clean atomic energy with a model of a nuclear submarine. One of the most laughed-at films in Disney's "Our Friend the Atom" was created. However, many seem to be excited about Disney's new idea of promoting healthy eating for children - especially America's first lady, Michelle Obama.
On Tuesday, company boss Bob Iger said that Disney is now tackling child obesity. Therefore, the group would ban all commercials for unhealthy food from the children's programs by 2015. In the future, only products that are low in fat, sugar and calories and that comply with the strict internal catalog should be advertised. Initially, only the United States was affected by the campaign. However, it should be distributed worldwide. "In due course, we will also adapt it in Germany," said a corporate spokesman in Munich. In Germany, "SuperRTL" is the largest broadcaster Disney is involved in. A company spokeswoman said that the broadcaster was not affected by the freeze on advertising already have their own strict advertising guidelines.
Does Disney want to win a new customer group through the advertising ban? It's hard to believe that a media company wants to voluntarily forego high advertising revenues. The reaction of the major junk food manufacturers is just as amazing. The day after the campaign announcement, Kraft Foods, which included Milka and Toblerone, said, "We welcome Disney's move to improve the nutritional criteria for advertising children." Nestlé, the manufacturer of numerous breakfast cereals, also said surprisingly positive The company has not advertised unhealthy snacks for those under the age of 12. Nestlé has partnered with various companies in the United States, including McDonald's and Coca-Cola, and has decided not to advertise children's products that are particularly high in sugar and fat.
Steve Birenberg, President of Northlake Capital Management, an investment consultancy focusing on the media, is critical of Disney's approach. The concern is primarily about publicity. "I don't want to sound cynical, but the whole thing is above all a very clever business decision," explains Birenberg. Because the advertising sales on the children's channels are relatively low and therefore only play a subordinate role. The analysis company SNL Kagan estimates the advertising sales at Disney XD only $ 127 million a year, but Disney made about $ 12 billion in revenue from its theme parks last year.
The sale of licensed products flushes about $ 3 billion a year into the company's treasury. With the advertising ban, Disney seems to want to address a new customer group. Health-conscious parents should also become Disney customers. "Disney gives up relatively little and gets a lot in return," explains Birenberg. A Disney quality seal is to be introduced at the same time as the campaign. "Micky Check" is intended to label foods that meet the Group's own nutritional criteria. This is how Disney decides which product is healthy is and which is not.
Special children's products often contain too much fat and sugar. According to its own information, Disney has been paying attention to healthy eating in its amusement parks since 2006. Accordingly, carrots or low-fat milk would be served with children's menus. It is strange that burgers and pizza are still on the menu.
Products that are specifically designed for children, according to the manufacturer, often contain too much sugar and fat. Whether it's a "children's menu", "bear sausage" or "children's cola", according to Foodwatch, the food industry is turning children's nutrition with such products on its head. It offers food in excess, of which children should actually only eat and drink small amounts. In contrast, children's food that would be certified by the "aid information service nutrition service, agriculture, consumer protection e.V." would remain in short supply. Foodwatch criticized that manufacturers are outside their responsibility for healthy child nutrition. Instead, it would promote increasing malnutrition. The experts criticize that they manufactured as many unbalanced products as possible for business reasons. The profit margin for fruit and vegetables is significantly lower than that of sweets and soft drinks. (ag)
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Image: Thommy Weiss / pixelio.de