2010 PG-13 Movie Marketing to Young Children

Iron Man 2—rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence—is just the opening salvo in the movie industry’s annual summer assault on children. This year’s attack continues with the opening of Prince of Persia, rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action.

Since 2007, CCFC has tracked the marketing of violent PG-13 blockbuster movies to very young children. Our research conclusively demonstrates that these films are extensively marketed even to preschoolers through TV ads on children’s networks when a disproportionate number of their youngest viewers are watching.

Last summer, CCFC found more than 5,000 ads promoting three violent blockbusters— Star Trek; Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen; and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra — before 8:00 PM on the children’s networks Nickelodeon, Nick Toons, Disney XD, and the Cartoon Network. This spring, we've already found more than 2,000 advertisements for Iron Man 2 on programs like Jimmy Neutron, Pokemon and Garfield. These include commercials for the film itself, as well as ads for Iron Man 2 toys and Burger King Iron Man Kids Meals that promote the film and foster the false impression that it's appropriate for young children. Children under age 12--including large numbers of children under 6--typically make up more than 50% of the audience for the commercials we monitored.

Number of ads for violent PG-13 movies on kid's networks before 8pm

 
Total by Network
Iron Man 2 (2010)
Transformers (2009)
Star Trek (2009)
GI Joe (2009)
Nick
2058
562
710
378
408
Nick Toons
1341
231
402
174
534
Disney XD
1518
641
525
150
202
Cartoon Network
2452
572
709
559
612
Total by Film  
2006
2346
1261
1756
Figures as of May 14, 2010

Nickelodeon, Disney, and the Cartoon Network shouldn’t profit by advertising violent media that is inappropriate for young children. Everyone from Congress to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to the advertising industry’s own self-regulatory agency has long recognized that broadcasters of programming for children have an obligation not to exploit kids’ vulnerability to advertising. Marketing PG-13 films to young children sends a confusing message to parents and increases the likelihood that kids will be exposed to violent content that even the film industry believes may be inappropriate for them.

We will continue to share our findings with the FCC and the Federal Trade Commission and urge these agencies to develop safeguards which would protect children from inappropriate marketing for PG-13 movies. But as we work together for more systemic change, let’s also tell Nickelodeon, Disney and the Cartoon Network to stop advertising violent PG-13 movies before 8PM.

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