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Disney says no to junk food

Disney CEO, Robert A. Iger reportedly announced on Monday that Disney will restrict junk-food ads on its child-focused television channels. Candy, sugared cereal and fast food advertising will no longer be allowed. The move is surprising on several fronts, particularly coming in the wake of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s controversial soda cup size restriction. Perhaps more significantly, Disney admits that they will lose advertisers and advertising revenue in the short term.

However, Iger is reported to have also said that “This is not altruistic. This is about smart business.” Disney obviously sees an advantage to its brand name in the long-run and recognizes that nothing promises a stream of profits better than a brand that commands premium pricing. Disney is going further with what it calls Mickey Check, a rating system for grocery aisles for products that have limited calories, saturated fat, sugar and/or sodium with the logo “good For You – Fun Too!”. Stickers with Mickey Mouse ears will adorn healthy food products that are Disney-licensed.

This development adds to the interesting public health story line that compares the fight for better nutrition with the anti-tobacco campaigns of previous decades. While tobacco companies operating in an oligopolistic market, with no fall-back product or position, stonewalled their way to huge legal liabilities and state settlements that are still being counted, the food industry and those who profit from it operate in a hugely complex and competitive environment. The movement toward healthier food has caught fire and is a growing marketing opportunity for first movers. Disney just put both ears into the race.



About the Author

Phil Edmundson is the Chairman and CEO of William Gallagher Associates (WGA), insurance brokers and consultants for businesses with over 30 years in the insurance industry. He manages strategy, talent acquisition and development, and management / acquisitions at WGA.

617.646.0229   PEdmundson@wgains.com   Connect with Phil on LinkedIn 

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