On the heels of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's latest stupid regulations commanding a shrinkage in the size of sugary drinks in restaurants, movie theaters and stadiums, the Walt Disney Co. has announced it will ban ads for products on its broadcast and online platforms that it has scientifically determined are "junk food" and do not meet the company's nutrition standards.
Curiously, Disney announced that it would begin this new effort immediately -- wait, no, at some time in 2015. So why announce this now? It would seem so that Disney could be praised and honored by first lady Michelle Obama -- or the other way around. It just smells. It carries a distinct aroma of campaign 2012.
Imagine that: Michelle Obama praised Disney to the skies because "As parents, we know that whatever is on TV is what our kids are going to want. I remember, as (Disney boss) Bob (Iger) has discussed, going to the grocery store with the kids, and the minute you walk down the aisle the kids are singing some jingle, or they're pulling on your leg begging you, pleading you for whatever they saw on TV."
The first lady painted a picture that every parent is "preparing those nutritious meals and snacks, and we're doing our best to teach our kids healthy habits. But when the kids turn on the TV to watch their favorite shows -- all that hard work is undermined whenever there is a commercial break."
Disney isn't the Nanny State and has every right to proceed with its own standards, even if such supposedly critically necessary new standards, which could be implemented next week, won't be imposed for another three years. But to what degree will Disney's politically correct new standards hurt existing businesses that aren't at fault?
It is undoubtedly true that most American parents believe Twinkies, super-size French fries and the like would qualify as "junk food." But the stated ban would also kill commercials for products that just don't fall in this category -- Oscar Mayer Lunchables, and Capri Sun juice boxes, etc.
Disney, on the other hand, will suffer little financial pain. Kantar Media estimates this will affect less than 1 percent of Disney's total annual advertising sales, which came in at $7.6 billion last year.
The Hollywood Reporter suggests that by 2015, the marketing shift will already be complete any way. "The days of whimsical commercials on Saturday morning cartoons where Cap'n Crunch fights pirates are coming to an end," said Brian Wieser of Pivotal Research. "Now he'll be seen checking his weight and playing baseball. ... Disney is just catching up to reality."
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