The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood was founded in 2000 by Susan Linn as an activist response to the rapidly escalating problem of commercialism encroaching on the lives of children.
CCFC, and the movement to reclaim childhood from corporate marketers, evolved from two events. In 1999, a diverse and interdisciplinary group of activists, academics, educators and healthcare providers concerned about corporate influences on children convened at Howard University. The next year, participants and others held a demonstration outside the Grand Hyatt Hotel on 42nd Street in New York City to protest the Golden Marble Awards, the advertising industry’s celebration of marketing to children. The protest garnered significant national media attention from NPR and USA Today to Advertising Age. Originally called Stop Commercial Exploitation of Children, CCFC continued to protest the Golden Marbles— through demonstrations and counter-conferences—until the industry cancelled them in 2003.
From a small group of concerned parents, health professionals, and educators CCFC has grown into a powerful force, working through every legal means possible to end the exploitive practice of child-targeted marketing so that children can grow up—and parents can raise them—without being undermined by greed.
- We convinced the Walt Disney Company to stop falsely promoting Baby Einstein videos as educational for babies and to offer refunds to parents who had been deceived by the company’s marketing.
- We prevented Hasbro from producing a line of dolls for six-year-old girls based on the Pussy Cat Dolls, a burlesque troupe turned singing group know for its sexualized songs and dances.
- We organized parents around the country to stop BusRadio, a company that broadcasted student-targeted ads on school buses. After a three-year campaign by CCFC, BusRadio closed its doors.
- We stopped Scholastic Inc., the renowned educational publisher, from distributing the United States of Energy, fourth grade teaching materials paid for by the American Coal Foundation. Following that success, we rallied tens of thousands of parents, educators and grassroots advocates to successfully persuade Scholastic to drastically limit its practice of partnering with corporations to produce sponsored teaching materials.
- In response to CCFC’s petition to the FTC, the Commissioners filed false advertising charges against the marketers of Your Baby Can Read, a video series which retailed for as much as $200. Your Baby Can and its former CEO agreed to settle the FTC's charges. The landmark settlement bars the defendants from further use of the phrase "Your Baby Can Read" and imposes a $185 million judgment - equal to the company's gross sales since 2008 - against the company.
- We helped parents and educators defeat state legislation to put advertising on school buses in several states, including Florida, Idaho, Kentucky, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Washington, and New York.
- We stopped McDonald’s from advertising on report card envelopes in Florida. The advertisements promised elementary school students free Happy Meals as a reward for good school performance.