At a press conference with the First Lady, Disney announced its “Magic of Healthy Living” guidelines, which will limit the advertising of food that does not meet the company’s updated nutritional standards in all media aimed at children under 12, including on Disney television, radio stations and Web sites.
The company also plans to reduce the amount of sodium by 25 percent in children’s meals sold at its theme parks, to create public service announcements about healthy eating, and establish the “Mickey Check” for Disney-licensed food products that meet its criteria of limited calories, sugar, sodium and saturated fat. The Mickey Check – an image of the classic Mouse ears accompanied by a check mark – and slogan “Good For You – Fun Too!” will appear on licensed food products, with recipes on Disney’s Web site, and on menus and products sold at Disney’s parks by the end of the year.
First Lady Michelle Obama praised the plan. “This new initiative is truly a game changer for the health of our children,” she said in a press release. “This is a major American company – a global brand – that is literally changing the way it does business so that our kids can lead healthier lives. With this new initiative, Disney is doing what no major media company has ever done before in the U.S. – and what I hope every company will do going forward. When it comes to the ads they show and the food they sell, they are asking themselves one simple question: ‘Is this good for our kids?’”
Disney said its nutritional standards track the recommendations proposed last year by a group of federal agencies as well as the self-regulatory efforts by the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative. For example, to comply with the Disney advertising standards, cereals must contain less than 10 grams of sugar per serving, juice cannot have more than 140 calories per 8-ounce serving, and snacks cannot have more than 150 calories per 1-ounce serving.
The changes in ad restrictions will not take effect until 2015 due to existing advertising contracts.
To read Disney’s guidelines, click here.
Why it matters: Disney acknowledged that it will likely lose ad revenue because of its new guidelines, but its new standards could cause a ripple effect among other broadcasters and sellers seeking to compete in the “family friendly” market. The change is “not altruistic. This is about smart business,” Robert A. Iger, chairman of Disney, said at the press conference.