Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Who's Fault Is It, Anyway?



There was a segment on The Today Show about this study, demonstrating the power of McDonald's branding and advertising on children.

The debate was between Donnie Deutsch, advertising icon, and a woman from some organization for an advertising-free childhood.

I've got to side with Donnie on this one. McDonald's can advertise all they want, but if parents don't want the message pounded into their kids' heads, it's their responsibility to make sure that doesn't happen.

Impossible? Hardly. I did it with both of my kids. First of all, they didn't watch commercial television until they were about 7. Sesame Street and movies ruled at our house! And not necessarily kid stuff that adults couldn't enjoy...no Rainbow Brite for us. They watched the Marx Brothers and Laurel and Hardy and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.

Foodwise, we're a non-red meat house and a non-fast food house. Both of my kids ate things that would normally be viewed as "adult" food (sundried tomatoes, catfish, shitake mushrooms, etc.). As a little guy, my son would refer to his friends as "carnivores" (not in an obnoxious or judgmental way, but the way another kid might say "my friend is Irish").

When my daughter was about 10, I left her home alone for a while one day. I called to see if she had eaten lunch. Her reply? "Yes, I had capers and goat cheese." My son went to daycare with a packed lunch that blew away the lunches of the TEACHERS: salmon, cous cous and asparagus. He was two. While they were not "forbidden" from eating sugar, they didn't find it at home.

Eventually my daughter ate meat at school ("Mom, I have a confession to make. I'm not a vegetarian anymore." Pfffft!) and at 22, eats it from time to time. Lucas at 12 has still never eaten it, and has no desire.

She didn't step into a McDonald's until she was about 8, and Lucas has only been there a handful of times in his life.

My point? McDonald's can do whatever they want...they can't undermine me, they can't overpower my role as a parent. I would never take my kids there (not to mention the sexist toy thing), and I suggest that if other parents are disturbed by this study they should follow suit.