Ethics of Advertising Bad Food to Kids

Back in December I posted about Food Marketing to Children

Today, from Reuters: Suit seeks to stop Kellogg from targeting kids

A consumer group wants to keep Tony the Tiger from promoting sugary cereals on the SpongeBob SquarePants cartoon show, or anywhere else kids are watching.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest on Wednesday announced legal action to try to stop the Kellogg Co., maker of cereals like Frosted Flakes, and Nickelodeon cable network Viacom Inc., from marketing junk food to children.

A planned lawsuit will ask a Massachusetts court to stop the companies from marketing junk foods in venues where 15 percent or more of the audience is under age 8, and to stop marketing junk foods through Web sites, toy giveaways, contests and other techniques aimed at that age group.

Although I’m no lawyer, it’s hard to imagine this case succeeding. But it’s NOT hard to imagine this case drawing attention to an important issue. (Hmmm…could that be the whole point?)

Of course, this is “merely” a lawsuit (philosophers get to say that sort of thing), and law & ethics are not the same. So, even if the suit turns out to be more smoke than fire, that leaves the ethics of aggressively marketing high-sugar, low-nutrient foods to kids open to debate. It may well be that advertising to kids is “necessary” in the sugary-cereal business. But, as I’ve said in previous postings, there are some times when you’ve got to say: either find a way to do business ethically, or stop doing business.

[Link to my previous blog entry updated, Aug 2010.]

1 comment so far

  1. […] also this blog entry from last year: Ethics of Advertising Bad Food to Kids. « They’re Ugly, and um, oh yeah…maybe dangerous. What’s in […]


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