This week Discovery Kids Network announced that it will no longer license its name and characters to companies promoting unhealthy foods. This comes on the heels of a recent announcement by Kellogg's to stop advertising unhealthy products to kids altogether, and the Public Service Campaign snafu by the US Department of Health and Human Services. In case you missed it, officials at the US Department of Health and Human Services in partnership with the Ad Council and DreamWorks Animation, featured the Shrek character in several Public Service Announcements while the character was also used to promote numerous fast foods, sugary cereals, cookies and candy - products frequently associated with childhood obesity. Oops! Read about the controversy here.
However, it may very well be this incident that has prompted the Discovery Kids Network to publicly announce their decision to restrict the licensing of their characters. It’s a smart business decision based on solid common sense by those in charge. That’s not to say I’m against companies using the images of animated characters and role models to promote products (I’ve written about this before), but I do believe that doing so must be in total harmony with your company's core values. In this case, Discovery Kids is all about expanding the knowledge of young people at an age when they can be easily influenced. So, controlling the potentially negative influences one of their characters could have by being associated with an unhealthy product – is absolutely the right (and smart) thing to do. Kudos to Discovery Kids and their parent company Discovery Communications for using good common sense (and smart marketing) in determining how their characters can be licensed in the future. Now we just need the other kid network companies to follow the lead of Discovery Kids!UPDATE (August 24, 2007): Nickelodeon has followed Discovery Kid's lead and announced new licensing guidelines for their characters. You can read about it here.
In good health,