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CCFC – The Mouse That Roared

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Baby Einstein by khara
Baby Einstein, a photo by khara on Flickr.

Walt Disney is a multi-billion dollar mega-corporation, and according to Wikipedia “It is the largest media conglomerate in the world in terms of revenue.” Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), on the other hand, is a tiny multi-thousand dollar non-profit who took on Walt Disney… and won.

“Parent alert: the Walt Disney Company is now offering refunds for all those “Baby Einstein” videos that did not make children into geniuses. They may have been a great electronic baby sitter, but the unusual refunds appear to be a tacit admission that they did not increase infant intellect. “We see it as an acknowledgment by the leading baby video company that baby videos are not educational, and we hope other baby media companies will follow suit by offering refunds,” said Susan Linn, director of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, which has been pushing the issue for years.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/24/education/24baby.html?_r=1

And it didn’t take long for Disney to take it’s revenge:

Just days after the Disney refunds were described on the front page of The New York Times on Oct. 23, campaign officials said they were contacted by Judge Baker officials expressing unhappiness with the group’s activities.

Dr. Alvin F. Poussaint, the psychiatrist who directs the Media Center at the Judge Baker center and oversaw the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, and Susan Linn, the campaign’s director, said center officials had told them that Disney contacted them three times.

“The Judge Baker staff informed us they didn’t want us to talk to the press, or to say anything about Baby Einstein,” Dr. Poussaint said. “They suggested to me that Disney was threatening to sue Judge Baker.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/10/education/10baby.html?_r=1

The result was that CCFC was being kicked out of their office, their staff forced to leave without their membership lists and other materials. CCFC was on the verge of being destroyed, but luckily there was enough of a public outcry over Disney’s thuggish tactics, that Disney stepped back and allowed the Judge Baker Center to negotiate an amicable split with CCFC.

CCFC became the Mouse that Roared, while (Mickey) mouse has had some second thoughts. Now, Disney has just made an important announcement:

“Walt Disney Co., acknowledging the powerful role that television can play in influencing children’s behavior, announced that it has instituted a junk-food advertising ban on programs for kids… Disney’s stricter rules won’t take full effect until 2015, both to honor existing contractual obligations with advertisers and to provide companies time to reformulate products.”

http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jun/06/business/la-fi-ct-disney-food-ads-20120606

CCFC takes on Kellogg and Scholastic, and the mouse roars again:

Kellogg Company will adopt nutrition standards for the foods it advertises to young children, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), the Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), and two Massachusetts parents will not proceed with a lawsuit against the company.

http://cspinet.org/new/200706141.html

“The publisher had been under fire since May, when it was forced to stop distributing a fourth-grade curriculum called “The United States of Energy” that had been paid for by the coal industry and distributed to classrooms across the country. Boston nonprofit Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood had called on Scholastic to drop the curriculum, and after achieving success, expanded its campaign — in concert with online social action platform Change.org — to lobby for sweeping reforms to Scholastic’s controversial “InSchool Marketing” division.”

http://news.change.org/stories/victory-scholastic-agrees-to-limit-corporate-funded-teaching-materials

CCFC has taken on numerous campaigns, not all as successful as these, yet for such a small organization they have been remarkably effective. Which is why Boston Magazine, in a long-form profile, called CCFC “a child marketer’s worst nightmare”.

http://www.bostonmagazine.com/articles/2012/01/electric-youth-why-susan-linn-and-her-campaign-for-a-commercial-free-childhood-terrify-child-advertisers/

CCFC relies on donations and memberships, so if you have the money to spare for a donation, it will be used extremely effectively.

https://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/621/p/salsa/donation/common/public/?donate_page_KEY=751


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