Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Marketing to Kids Archives

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Amazon Will No Longer Sell “Boys Toys” and “Girls Toys” — Just “Toys”

posted by Nell Minow

There is only one person who should decide which toy is fun — the person who plays with it. Not the manufacturers or the retailers. President Obama wisely pointed this out by refusing to accept the labels on toys at […]

Marvel/Disney — Where are the Natasha Dolls?

posted by Nell Minow

Jenna Busch and the wonderful folks of Legion of Leia and Heroic Girls are asking an important question: #wheresnatasha? Remember last year when the #WheresGamora hashtag called out the lack of Gamora toys in the Guardians of the Galaxy toy […]

Google’s YouTube Kids is Saturated with Stealth Ads

posted by Nell Minow

In February of this year, Google launched the YouTube Kids app, specially designed for “little thumbs” to get kids hooked on devices and videos as soon as they can hold an iPhone. They assured parents that the app was completely […]

Toys That Impair Imagination: The Over-Licensing of Children’s Toys

posted by Nell Minow

It’s always tempting to give children toys from the movies and television programs they love, and some of them are high-quality or even educational. But Melissa Atkins Wardy has a very good argument that the licensing of media tie-ins has […]

TOADY 2014: The Worst Toy of the Year

posted by Nell Minow

I look forward to the TOADY (Toys Oppressive and Destructive to Young children) worst toy of the year award given out each year by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood with a horrified fascination. What could they have been thinking? […]

Dr. Toy’s Best List 2014

posted by Nell Minow

Every year I look forward to Dr. Toy’s list of the best toys and games for kids. Steveanne Auerbach is the author of Dr. Toy’s Smart Play/ Smart Toys and a respected expert on toys that encourage learning and imagination. […]

Guardians of the Galaxy Merch: Where’s Gamora???? Sigh.

posted by Nell Minow

Guardians of the Galaxy is enormous fun and a huge box-office hit, with loveable characters and a refreshing sense of humor about itself. Who wouldn’t want to extend the pleasures of the film with some merch, perhaps an action figure […]

The Present NOT to Buy Your Children Next Christmas

posted by Nell Minow

Dreamworks is teaming up with Fuhu, the maker of tablets  for children to create the first tablet in which the content provider controls what the user sees.  In other words, it’s more like a television.  While Amazon sensibly makes sure […]

Brave Girl Ads Send a Message

posted by Nell Minow

It is great to see girls and their families and teachers talking back to corporations who fail to understand their courage, strength, curiosity, and range of interests.

Hijacking the Tooth Fairy

posted by Nell Minow

The tooth fairy is one of childhood’s most treasured myths, a lovely tribute to a bittersweet rite of passage that allows each family to crate their own traditions.  (Our tooth fairy left a book.)  There’s an awful movie with The […]

Some Scary Facts to Follow Screen-Free Week

posted by Nell Minow

For a look at the scope and consequences of today’s media-saturated culture on children, check out these charts and an article from Utne about the impact of nonstop corporate marketing through kids’ media. Marketing affects what children want to eat, wear, […]

The FTC Helps Kids Understand Advertising

posted by Nell Minow

The Federal Trade Commission has an excellent website to help kids be smarter consumers.  It’s always a challenge to teach children to identify and challenge the bombardment of advertising messages they get every day.  You Are Here’s West Terrace explains targeted […]

FTC’s New Rules on Web Advertising to Kids

posted by Nell Minow

The Federal Trade Commission is proposing new rules to better protect kids online, closing loopholes that still permit companies to gather personal information about kids despite a 1998 law that was supposed to prevent it.  According to the Wall Street […]

Teaching Kids About “Stuff”

posted by Nell Minow

I like Kirsten Greenidge’s piece in the Boston Globe about what she did when her children had tantrums in a store.  She said she understands the appeal of “stuff.”  And she described how the seemingly harmless fun of posting photos […]

Spider-Man Licorice and Other Weird Marketing Gimmicks

posted by Nell Minow

Thanks to my friend and fellow critic Cynthia Fuchs for leading me to this list of marketing tie-ins for “The Amazing Spider-Man.”  It’s funny that the Pez dispenser was the first reveal of the movie’s villain.  I am not surprised by […]

Children Now Calls on the FCC to Limit Hidden Ads in Children’s Programming

posted by Nell Minow

Industry publication Broadcasting & Cable reports that representatives of the advocacy group Children Now met with a top aide to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and other FCC staffers last week “to press the commission to take a stand against imbedded advertising […]

Disney to Restrict Advertising of Junk Food

posted by Nell Minow

The New York Times reports that: The Walt Disney Company, in an effort to address concerns about entertainment’s role in childhood obesity, plans to announce on Tuesday that all products advertised on its child-focused television channels, radio stations and Web sites […]

Kids’ Toys and Costumes for the PG-13 “The Avengers”

posted by Nell Minow

“The Avengers” is a PG-13 superhero movie with “intense sequences of action violence throughout and a drug reference,” according to the MPAA.  So why is it marketing the film via action figures and costumes for children?  Alert reader Andreas U. […]

Marketing Legos to Boys and Girls

posted by Nell Minow

Thanks to my friends at the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood for pointing me to this look at the different way Legos are marketed to boys and girls.  I love the way the website lets you make your own mash-up. […]

Complaints about “The Lorax” from Lou Dobbs and the CCFC

posted by Nell Minow

Dr. Seuss wrote The Lorax in 1971, around the time of the first Earth Day and the creation (by Republican President Richard Nixon) of the Environmental Protection Agency.  It is the story of the “Once-ler” who chanced upon a place filled […]

Avoid the ‘Nagging Nine’ and Over-Advertised Toys

posted by Nell Minow

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has released their annual list of the toys that most outrageously over-advertise to children.  These are the products that clutter the channels most watched by children and the CCFC recommends parents not reward their […]

How Companies Get Kids Hooked on Brands

posted by Nell Minow

The headline is inflammatory but the facts are truly disturbing.  Business Insider’s slideshow on how companies get kids hooked on brands starts, believe it or not, prenatally, and continue through “alca-pop” candies and tobacco companies’ 18th birthday gifts to teens.

USA Today on New Techniques in Marketing to Kids

posted by Nell Minow

USA Today has an important article on new technologies for marketing to kids. With the use of new, kid-enchanting technologies, are savvy marketers gaining the upper hand on parents? Are toy marketers such as Ganz, food marketers such as McDonald’s […]

Harry Potter and the Curse of the Non-Fair Trade Chocolate

posted by Nell Minow

The last of the Harry Potter films is out and Fandango reported over 5000 shows were sold out before opening day. It’s a likely candidate for this year’s box office champion with multi-million dollar revenues from tickets and perhaps even more from the […]

Scholastic is Selling Coal Power — to Children

posted by Nell Minow

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood reports that esteemed publisher Scholastic is sending out “teaching materials” to schools that amounts to a commercial for coal power.  The coal industry, through the American Coal Foundation, has hired Scholastic to produce The […]

Ralph Lauren Pretends His Catalog is a Book For Kids

posted by Nell Minow

Renée Loth writes in the Boston Globe this weekend about Ralph Lauren’s new “book” for children — really a thinly disguised catalog.  They’re calling it “The first ever shoppable children’s storybook.’’ “The RL Gang: A Magically Magnificent School Adventure’’ is […]

Morgan Spurlock’s TED Talk on Product Placement in Movies

posted by Evan Derrick

I’ll be posting an interview with Morgan Spurlock (“Super Size Me”) about his new movie on product placement soon. Here’s the talk he gave at TED about making a movie about product placement that was entirely funded by product placement. […]

Protecting Kids’ Privacy: Common Sense Media

posted by Nell Minow

Common Sense Media announced a new privacy initiative this week along with the results of their survey showing that 92 percent of parents are concerned about protecting their children’s privacy online. The Common Sense Privacy Campaign will include the distribution […]

Say No to Informercials Masquerading as Programs for Kids

posted by Nell Minow

The FCC has issued a call for public comment on the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood’s petition that the upcoming Nicktoons children’s television show Zevo-3 violates the public interest. It is the first children’s show to feature commercial spokescharacters; the […]

Don’t Trust the Toy Lady

posted by Nell Minow

The LA Times reports that back to school reports on a number of national and local newscasts have included commentary from “a young mother and ‘toy expert’ named Elizabeth Werner,” described as “perky and positive-plus” in her demonstration of seven […]

More Happy Meal Toys for Kids Promoting PG-13 Movies

posted by Nell Minow

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is asking McDonald’s to stop giving children Marvel comics toys that promote violent PG-13 movies. The fast food giant’s latest giveaway for preschool boys features eight Marvel comic action figures, including The Human Torch, […]

Who Let Pepsi Be an Expert on Healthy Eating for Kids?

posted by Nell Minow

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has a sobering blog post from Michele Simon about the latest F is for Fat release, an annual report from the Trust for Healthy Americans. The Trust describes itself as Trust “a non-profit, non-partisan […]

The Other Toy Story

posted by Nell Minow

It’s a shame that a movie about the enduring pleasures of imagination and re-purposing and recycling treasured toys is also one long infomercial for more than 300 new products specifically tied to “Toy Story 3.” Susan Linn of the Center […]

Shrek Sells Out

posted by Nell Minow

I loved the new Shrek Forever After movie. But I was very sorry to see that the lovable big green ogre is not just living happily ever after over in Far Far Away. He is all over the mall selling […]

MPAA to Revise Rules

posted by Nell Minow

Following my phone meeting with Joan Graves and Marilyn Gordon of the MPAA and the FTC’s report (citing my article) criticizing the motion picture industry, the MPAA has informed me that it will be making some changes to its rules […]

MPAA Makes Unannounced Change to Trailer Content

posted by Nell Minow

As I describe in an exclusive story today’s Chicago Sun-Times, The Motion Picture Association of America’s Ratings Board made an unannounced change in April of this year that eliminated almost all restrictions on the content of movie trailers, the brief […]

Stop Marketing of PG-13 Movies to Young Children

posted by Nell Minow

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is circulating a petition to protest the marketing of GI Joe action figures promoting the new PG-13 movie “GI Joe.” Yes, GI Joe was a toy for decades before the movie. But these action […]

A Terminator Costume for Little Kids?

posted by Nell Minow

Cinematical reports that Toys R Us is selling a Terminator costume for little kids who, of course, are too young to see the movie, which is rated PG-13 and is just a millimeter away from an R. I understand that […]

‘The Story of Stuff’

posted by Nell Minow

The New York Times reports that a short animated film called “The Story of Stuff” has become “a sleeper hit in classrooms across the nation.” What I like about the story is the way the unabashed advocacy of the film […]

More Marketing of PG-13 Movies to Little Kids

posted by Nell Minow

My friend Liz Perle has a wonderful piece at Common Sense Media about the latest efforts to market PG-13 movies to young children. The first Transformers movie, which was rated PG-13 but lent its brand to Happy Meal toys aimed […]

Why is SpongeBob in a Sexy Commercial?

posted by Nell Minow

What were they thinking? The latest Burger King ad for a Kids Meal featuring a SpongeBob Squarepants toy is a booty-shaking adaptation of Sir Mix-a-Lot’s famous musical salute to ladies’ rear ends. This is what the Campaign for a Commercial-Free […]

Dora’s Makeover, Part 2

posted by Nell Minow

Thanks to everyone for the thoughtful comments on the new “Dora.” I promised to follow up, so here is the latest picture of what the older version of Dora will look like. As I have said, I am keeping an […]

Dora’s Disappointing Makeover

posted by Nell Minow

Here is the opening paragraph of a new press release: Mattel, Inc. (NYSE:MAT) and Nickelodeon/Viacom Consumer Products (NVCP), announced today that Dora the Explorer™ is growing up! The companies have introduced a whole new way to look at Dora for […]

Super Bowl Ads — Not Family Friendly?

posted by Nell Minow

Many families have Super Bowl traditions as the generations gather around the television to watch the biggest football game of the year. It gives families a wonderful opportunity to share their interests and histories and to talk about the skill, […]

Ads on Tests

posted by Nell Minow

A teacher whose budget would no longer cover the expense of printing out his math tests has resorted to selling ad space on calculus quizzes and exams. Rancho Bernardo teacher Tom Farber says that his budget for print-outs is $300 […]

Inappropriate Trailer Shown Before ‘Twilight’

posted by Nell Minow

Critics usually do not see trailers in our special screenings, so many thanks to the commenters who brought this problem to my attention. Some “Twilight” fans are seeing the disturbing trailer for “The Unborn” before the movie. The choice of […]

Doctor Group Objects to Smoking in Movies for Kids

posted by Nell Minow

USA Today has a story about smoking in movies: A new study by the American Medical Association Alliance, the volunteer branch of the AMA, finds that over the past six years more than half of the movies geared toward children […]

Meet Me in St. Louis

posted by Nell Minow
Lowest Recommended Age:All Ages
MPAA Rating:G
Movie Release Date:1944
DVD Release Date:2000
Lowest Recommended Age: All Ages
MPAA Rating: G
Movie Release Date: 1944
DVD Release Date: 2000

This episodic story of the Smith family in the St. Louis of 1903 is based on the memoirs of Sally Benson.  Its pleasures are in the period detail, the glorious songs (including standards “The Trolley Song” and “Have Yourself a […]

Red Band Trailers (Rated R)

posted by Nell Minow

“Green Band” trailers begin with a notice that says that while the movie has been rated something else, the trailer itself has been approved for all audiences by the MPAA. I am sure that sometimes the people who make trailers […]

Should We Rate Movies for Marketing?

posted by Nell Minow

Alissa Quart’s column in Slate’s Big Money argues that in addition to rating movies and television for language, violence, sex, smoking, and substance abuse, we should rate them for product placement. She notes that for $300,000 you can have your […]

Book for Concerned Parents: So Sexy So Soon

posted by Nell Minow

The authors of the book “So Sexy So Soon,” Diane Levin and Jean Kilbourne, say that children are constantly bombarded by the media and advertisers with images and portrayals of hyper-sexuality. Thong panties, padded bras, and risqué Halloween costumes for […]

PG-13 Superheroes in Pre-K Books

posted by Nell Minow

Children’s book author Erica S. Perl has a gallery in Slate about books for early readers featuring superheroes from PG-13 movies like The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man and even the very violent and disturbing Dark Knight. Perl reports that […]

Kmart commercial encourages under-age kids to go to “Indiana Jones”

posted by Nell Minow

Kmart has a new promotion urging children to participate in its “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” giveaway. The movie is rated PG-13 “for adventure violence and scary images.” PG-13 means that parents should be aware that […]

Get Ready for Kidzilla

posted by Nell Minow

Maybe it’s just too much exposure to commercials for Bridezilla, a sort of WWE with smackdowns between maniacal brides and their wedding planners, families, and bridesmaids, but I was horrified to read a press release today from, a new […]

Previous Posts

Trailer: A Bigger Splash with Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, and Dakota Johnson
[youtube][/youtube] The lives of a famous rock star and a filmmaker, (Tilda Swinton and Matthias Schoenaerts) vacationing on the idyllic sun-drenched and remote Italian island of Pantelleria are ...

posted 8:00:25am Oct. 03, 2015 | read full post »

Interview: Adam LaVorgna of "Masterless"
Adam LaVorgna became an actor very young and was in the cast of the television series "Brooklyn Bridge" and "7th Heaven" before he was out of his teens. He loved the cast but he felt lost. He tried to use drugs to feel better and tried rehab ...

posted 2:58:01pm Oct. 02, 2015 | read full post »

Lauren Bradshaw's "Martian"-inspired Google Searches
I love this wonderful article by my friend and fellow critic, Lauren Bradshaw, about the ten Google searches she made after viewing "The Martian." ...

posted 10:13:33am Oct. 02, 2015 | read full post »

Interview: Goran Visnjic of "The Journey Home"
Goran Visnjic stars in the family movie adventure The Journey Home, with Dakota Goyo as an Canadian boy who is determined to bring a polar bear cub back to its mother. The scenery is spectacular and the story is heartwarming and exciting. I ...

posted 8:17:43am Oct. 02, 2015 | read full post »

Exclusive Clip: Golden Shoes
[jwvideo vid='KiRrH2Wm' pid='GvkPWNBE'] We are delighted to present an exclusive clip from the new family movie about soccer, "Golden Shoes." As long as he could remember, eight-year-old Christian Larou (Christian Koza) dreamed of being a ...

posted 8:00:46am Oct. 02, 2015 | read full post »


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