Violent PG-13 Summer Blockbusters

Citing thousands of toys and kid-targeted promotions already under way for a slew of violent summer blockbusters, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood launched a letter-writing campaign today to the Motion Picture Association of America urging the MPAA to stop allowing film companies to promote PG-13 movies to young children. Take action>

In January, in response to a complaint by CCFC, the Federal Trade Commission urged the MPAA to develop an “explicit policy, incorporating objective criteria” to “ensure that PG-13 movies are not marketed in a manner inconsistent with their rating,” but the MPAA has refused that request. As a result, ads promoting PG-13 movies and their related merchandise continue to be a staple of children’s television programming. Read the press release>


The Incredible Hulk

Release Date: June 13

Rating: PG-13 for "for sequences of intense action violence, some frightening sci-fi images, and brief suggestive content."

Toys: 260 new toys, many of which are recommended for children as young as three.

Other Promotional Items: 1,340 

Kid-Targed Promotional Partner: Burger King 

Television Advertising: CCFC found the following television ads for The Incredible Hulk: Burger King Hulk ad on Fairly Odd Parents at 7:00 and 7:30 AM on 6/11/08 Burger King ad and ad for film itself at 7:30 on SpongeBob on 6/11/08


The Dark Knight

Release Date: July 18

Rating: PG-13 "for intense sequences of violence and some menace."

Toys: 950 new toys

Other Merchandising Items: 4,000

Kid-Targed Promotional Partners: Burger King, Mattel, Hershey's and General Mills, which has a number of Batman-centric sweepstakes, toys and on-pack offers for its breakfast cereals, yogurt and fruit snacks products. Products currently featuring The Dark Knight include Cheerios and GoGurts.

Television Advertising: CCFC found advertisements for the Dark Knight Stealth Launch Batmobile (manufacturers suggested age: 4 and up) on Drake and Josh and Back in the Barnyard . The ads included clips from the movie. Both shows are rated TY-7.



Release Date: May 2 Rating: PG-13 for “intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, and brief suggestive content.”

Toys: 275, many recommended for children as young as three or four.

Other Merchandise Promotions: 1475

Kid-Targeted Promotional Partner: Burger King, which featured an Iron Man toy giveaway in its Kids Meals for children three and up. Television Advertising: CCFC found television advertisements for the Burger King Iron Man promotion on Fairly Odd Parents and SpongeBob SquarePants. Both programs are rated TV-Y7 (“designed for children age 7 and above.)

Other Concerns: The film featured Burger King product placement, despite Burger King's pledge no to not “approve, pay for, or actively seek the placement of BURGER KING® food or beverage products in the program/editorial content of any medium in the United States primarily directed to children under 12 years old.” If Burger King believes it is inappropriate to target children under twelve with product placement, why are they encouraging children as young as three to see a film with Burger King product placement?


Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Release Date: May 22 Rating: PG-13 for " for adventure violence and scary images."

Hasbro Toys: Most are recommended for ages four and up.

LegoToys: Most are recommended for ages six and up.

Kid-Targeted Promotional Partners:

  • Kraft Lunchables: The Kraft lunch line aimed for young children will feature images of Indiana Jones, as well as Shia LaBeouf's Mutt Williams character, on 15 million packages.
  • Kellogg's: Indiana Jones light-up spoon giveaway in Frosted Flakes, Apple Jacks, Cocoa Krispies, Corn Pops, Froot Loops & Mini-Wheats.
  • Burger King: BK is offering an Indy Whopper with two burger patties, spicy sauce, bacon and pepper-jack cheese.
  • M&M's/Mars: Limited-edition M&M's Mint Crisp Chocolate Candies; TV ads show M&M's spokescharacters swinging from ropes and plunging down a cavern; Indiana Jones”-themed packaging will appear on M&M'S Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches, M&M'S Ice Cream Cones and Snickers Ice Cream Bars.

Television Advertising: CCFC found television advertisement for Indiana Jones on Fairly Odd Parents. Advertisements for Indiana Jones Lunchables, Frosted Flakes and the Burger King promotion have appeared on Fairly Odd Parents and SpongeBob SquarePants (rated TV-Y7)


Sources: Unless otherwise indicated, all figures and citations come from: S. Bowles. Summer movies drive toys full-speed to shelves. USA Today, April 29, 2008.


Blog Category: