Parental PSAs Debut

WASHINGTON As pressure builds to limit the amount of junk food advertised to kids, the Ad Council today launches a public service campaign that encourages parents to closely monitor how much time their children spend in front of the TV.

Two spots by Interpublic Group’s McCann Erickson in New York use humor to show how parents can control what their children watch. In one spot, “Boss of Mob,” a mother kindly speaks to three gangsters seated in her living room who represent violent content on TV and tells them she will have to block them out.

The work also refers viewers to a Web site, (www.TheTVBoss.org), where parents can learn how to use television-blocking technology.

The Motion Picture Association of America, the National Association of Broadcasters and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, among others, sponsored the campaign. McCann did the work on a pro-bono basis.

“For the first time, parents have total power to control all TV programming in their home,” said Jack Valenti, former MPAA president and CEO. “Through TV, cable and satellite blocking mechanisms, parents can become the ‘TV Boss’ in their homes. Whatever programs parents believe to be unsuitable for their 9 and 10 year olds can be easily blocked, so that when parents go out to dinner, they can be secure in the knowledge they have blocked out all programs they don’t want their young children to watch.”

Ad Council research found that 70-80 percent of parents are concerned that their children are watching programs that are inappropriate.

The campaign follows a move by advocacy groups last week to push lawmakers and regulators to curb interactive ads, which the groups claim irresponsibly push junk food at a time when childhood obesity rates are growing [Adweek Online, July 24].

The Kaiser Family Foundation on July 19 released a survey that found 85 percent of leading food brands that use TV ads to attract kids also target them through Web sites. Games, promotions, viral marketing and membership opportunities (often built around movie and TV tie-ins) were among the features of such sites, according to the survey.