Does Disney really care if your kids are fat?

Picture_5 I don’t need to tell you how pro-Disney I am.  I love the brand, I love the culture, I love the actual experience.  It is where I go to re-charge and relax.  It is, in my mind, my place.

So it pains me to call bull#&*@^ on Disney.  But I’ve got to.

Thanks to a post on Marketing Profs Daily Fix (by Ted Mininni) and a follow up from Cam Beck at ChaosScenario, I learned about an article on CNN/

It reported that Disney has pledged their efforts to fight childhood obesity by launching a new line of products called Disney Garden that will include Mickey-shaped snack trays with combinations of celery, peanut butter and raisins or apples, cheese and crackers and others. Other items include sugar snap peas, honey orange carrot coins, cheesy broccoli bites and miniature apples, peaches, pears, plums and oranges.

Disney was one of a dozen companies that made a pledge before an FTC hearing in July that put more pressure on the companies to help curb the growing child obesity problem through more responsible marketing.

So Disney must be committed to eradicating childhood obesity, right?

I don’t really think so.  I’m sure they recognize its a problem.  And they certainly don’t want to purposefully fatten up your kids. 

But Disney Garden is brand extension, not social responsibility. 

Let’s face it, Disney is all about being family friendly.  They want to create brand loyalty among family decision-makers.  Where better than the grocery store?  And who better to cozy up to than Mom?  What is one of the hottest topics among parents today?  Childhood obesity.

Here’s the pesky part of this new breed of marketing. For it to be authentic and embraced by your consumers, there can’t be any "holes" in the story.  You have to be able to prove that you are walking your talk.

In this case, here are some of the holes I might reluctantly poke into Disney’s pledge against obesity (childhood or otherwise):

  • Disney has granted the exclusive privilege of a presence inside their parks to McDonalds and their french fry wagons.  So much for their break from Mickey D’s. The only thing those wagons sell — fries, sodas and bottled water.
  • Disney owned ABC Network still accepts and runs plenty of commercials for Doritos, sugar-laden cereal and other junk foods.  And they run plenty of them during Saturday morning cartoons and Hannah Montana reruns.
  • I just visited Disney’s website for Kids Island and watched a cool web ad for Cheetos.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I don’t think Disney is out to fatten up our kids.  And I know they are doing some things to offer healthy alternatives, like offering carrots instead of fries.  But to lay claim to a position as the industry leader out fighting obesity seems a stretch. 

Today’s marketing needs to be very wary of hype.  And this feels a wee bit hyped to me.  What do you think?