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Disney, Kroger to Brand Food with Buzz Lightyear, Others


Gulp...

Following a week of announcements concerning advertising to children - a July 20 forum in Washington scrutinized possible links between such advertising and childhood obesity, and the Kaiser Family Foundation reported that 85 percent of top food brands that target children through TV ads also use branded websites to market to kids - Disney has announced plans to brand food items.

Disney Consumer Products has signed a deal with supermarket retailer Kroger to introduce more than 100 Disney-branded healthy food items, BrandWeek reports (via MediaBuyerPlanner). Called Disney's Magic Selections, the co-branded items will have 12 categories, including water, low-sugar juices, milk, fruit, vegetables, pasta, soup, bread, yogurt, meat, cheese and "portion control snacks," according to the article.

This is the first time that Disney has licensed with a food retailer for the retailer's own, store-brand products. Kroger, the nation's largest traditional supermarket chain in the U.S. with more than 2,500 grocery stores, trails only Wal-Mart in terms of grocery-related sales.

Private label sales are growing at a faster rate than comparable national brands, up 64 percent vs. 30 percent, respectively, between 1997 and 2005.

In the face of such concern about advertising to children, Nickelodeon said last week that it will be licensing characters such as SpongeBob SquarePants to three fruit and vegetable providers, writes AdAge.

Advertisers and media companies are growing increasingly worried about pressure from Washington and groups, such as Children Now, which are critical of food advertising to children. Though television advertising to children often comes under fire, there are no immediate proposals in Washington to ban ads based on their content. However, there are proposals to limit advertisers' use of interactive media.

FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein believes the agency should "severely limit" advertising to children on TV that allows users to click through to the internet, for example, while a provision before the U.S. Senate goes further, proposing a ban on links to commercial matter during kids programming and during ad breaks, writes MediaWeek. The Association of National Advertisers told key senators in a letter dated July 17 that media innovations would be "strangled" by such an interactivity ban and other proposed restrictions.

A December 2005 report from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies showed that food and beverage marketing targeted to children ages 12 and under does in fact lead them to request and consume high-calorie, low-nutrient products and affects their consumption habits, at least over the short term.

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