Disney has set the agenda. When a company of its stature marks such a popular line in the sand in its advertising policies, it will be difficult for its competitors such as Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network not to follow.
Disney said Tuesday it would refuse advertising on kid-targeted platforms for food and beverages that don’t meet certain health standards by 2015.
Perhaps it will turn out to be more of a PR move than a substantive one. By 2015, there might be enough pressure on the food and beverage marketers to reformulate their products even further so most of the heavily advertised ones meet the Disney standards.
But, anytime a well-liked First Lady, who has campaigned to find ways to cut down on childhood obesity, beams over your company’s move, that’s huge.
“This is a major American company - a global brand - that is literally changing the way it does business so that our kids can lead healthier lives,” First Lady Michelle Obama said in a Disney-issued statement.
Nick and Cartoon Network would be smart to set the same policies, issue press releases tipping their caps to Disney and garnering support from the First Lady, too. Pressure on them will mount and it would be smart to try and wipe the issue away before it really escalates.
Get ahead of the controversy. Wal-Mart has certainly started going that route in many instances, realizing it’s better to try and take a nagging public policy issue off the table and then look for ways to make up any lost revenue some other way.
Disney is making McDonald’s look rather hard-headed as the fast food company last month turned away a shareholder proposal for the second year in a row that would have had it conduct a study on the impact of its products on childhood obesity.
One thing is clear, Michelle Obama is having success with her anti-childhood obesity efforts. She needs an ad agency to come up with a quick, unforgettable tagline for her campaign. “Just Say No” might work, but another First Lady has already taken it.