Children’s media watchdog Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood is yelling foul, and it wants the FCC to throw the yellow flag as Nicktoons gets set to premiere a cartoon featuring three characters heretofore seen in nothing other than commercials for Skechers footwear.
According to CCFC, “Because the animated stars of Zevo-3 — Kewl Breeze, Z-Strap, and Elastika — embody specific lines of shoes, the entire show will be an advertisement for the Skechers brand. The broadcast of Zevo-3, therefore, will violate the requirement established by Congress in the Children’s Television Act that that no cable operator shall air more than 10.5 minutes of commercial matter per hour during children’s programming on weekdays.
“It’s clear that Skechers and Nicktoons are flouting the policies established by Congress to protect children from excessive commercialism,” said CCFC’s Director, Dr. Susan Linn. “Zevo-3 is a twenty-two minute commercial masquerading as a kids’ TV show.”
CCFC says that the characters were introduced in promotional comic books, and use Skechers footwear features of one kind or another to defeat villains who have less effective footwear. It claims that the promos have been so effective that children ask for shoes by the character name rather than the model name.
CCFC says the last time a promotional icon was about to be promoted to cartoon star was in 1992, when Fox was planning a show based on the Cheetos spokes-cheetah named Chester Cheetah. Fox responded favorably to criticism from children’s advocates, and according to CCFC, there have been no similar program plans since.
RBR-TVBR observation: One of the most common fine categories levied against television stations is violation of the children’s advertising limits. If a station goes a couple of seconds over the limit it’s liable for a fine. And if a character in a cartoon or program should happen to appear in an ad aired during a program, on purpose, inadvertently, even only partially exposed and on air for a split second, the entire time slot becomes a program-length commercial.