The fast-food giant plans to promote the movie with toys in its Kids Meals aimed at children ages 3 and up. "Iron Man" is rated PG-13 for "intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, and brief suggestive content." According to The New York Times, the film's hero is imprisoned by "malevolent jihadi forces in Afghanistan."
Josh Golin, CCFC associate director, says that while a parent needs to take responsibility for a child's upbringing, movie studios and restaurants like Burger King need to make better judgments when marketing to kids.
Burger King declined to comment.
As more companies weave advertising campaigns in print, online and product placement, it makes more sense to appoint the Federal Trade Commission as the governing body to regulate and oversee messages aimed at children, rather than piecemeal by industry, Golin says, adding that "Iron Man" is inappropriate for children, but advertised on television programs for 7-year-olds, and marketed to 3-year-olds at restaurants.
Paramount made the agreement with Burger King, and the film industry should be held equally responsible, Golin says. "I don't think we should allow corporations to make [parenting] more difficult and confusing," he says. "If 'Iron Man' isn't a movie for 3-year-olds, asking companies not to market to them doesn't seem unreasonable."
The movie rating and Burger King's promotion suggests an inconsistency between the company's message and its marketing pledge made in September, which was to not pay for or actively seek the placement of Burger King food or beverage products in the program/editorial content of any medium in the United States primarily directed to children under 12 years old. And the pledge Burger King made violates the agreement by promoting a product placed in the movie directed toward kids 12 and under.
The toy industry also should take responsibility, Golin says. Companies like Hasbro create toys, "Transformers" and "Iron Man" action figures. The toys are geared toward 3- to-5-year-olds, which might suggest the movie is suitable for young children as well.