A Washington, D.C., area organic grocery store chain is banning all food items marketed to children with cartoon characters, according to a report on Food Navigator-USA. MOM’s Organic Market founder Scott Nash called using cartoon characters on items like cereal boxes or snacks “sleazy” and advertising itself ” a shady game.”
Nash said that it’s less of a problem for organic stores like his than conventional grocery stores where “half the cereal aisle has got characters on the boxes.” The ten MOM’s Organic Market stores, found in Maryland and Virginia, will be attempting to do what many before them have complained about: shelter children from advertising.
Starbucks once came under fire for marketing some of its fruit-flavored products at events that draw families, and has even pledged not to specifically target children.
Are children fair game in the the rough-and-tumble free market or is should we support those companies that choose not to use this approach for selling their products (or getting mom into the store)?
One thing we ought not to do is regulate the activity through government. The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, which was quoted in the article on MOM’s, points on its website to the Federal Trade Commission’s regulation of marketing to children, and well as state-based legislation restricting junk food marketing in schools.
Individual, privately owned retailers like MOM’s of course has the right to choose what products they will and will not sell. Some customers may appreciate their actions, others may choose to shop elsewhere.
What the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is doing, in effect, is using children to put forth their view of a more regulated and government-controlled society. That seems more like a sleazy and shady game than letting businesses decide for themselves if they want to stock products with cartoon characters.