Children’s advocacy groups are speaking out against the Department of Health and Human Services’ decision to use Shrek as spokesman for an anti-obesity drive.
A joint project of HHS, the Ad Council’s Coalition for Healthy Children and DreamWorks Animation SKG, creator of the Shrek movies, the ad campaign features ads in which Shrek and his gang urges children to exercise at least an hour a day. This series of PSAs will be part of the HHS’ Small Steps Program for children. View a video here.
The animated ogre promotes “an inherent conflict of interest between marketing junk food and promoting public health,” said Susan Linn, director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.
Sure, Shrek’s a big hit with kids, especially with the next movie expected to be released May 18. But he won’t just be fighting obesity.
The grouchy ogre is also pitchman for dozens of junk food products, including Mars Inc.’s Snickers and M&M’s candy; PepsiCo Inc.’s Sierra Mist drink; and Kellogg Co.’s Fruit Loops, Frosted Flakes, Pop-Tarts, Cheez-Its and Keebler cookies.
The film also has a tie-in with McDonald’s; there will be Shrek-themed promotions of Happy Meals and DreamWorks will create animation for some McDonald’s commercials.
“Why would young children follow Shrek’s advice about healthy living and ignore his entreaties to eat Happy Meals and Pop-Tarts?” Linn wrote.
Not even two years ago, the Institute of Medicine issued a report accusing food companies of using popular cartoon characters – including Shrek – along with other dirty tricks to manipulate children into buying junk food and becoming obese. And now Shrek’s the government’s spokesman?
Talk about a case of do as I say, and not as I do. I just wonder if the DDS isn’t getting any kickbacks from Dreamwork’s junk food partners.