British MP Demands Ban on McDonald’s Kids-TV Sponsorship

27 June 2002

Britain's cash-strapped ITV network, happy to collect revenues any which way it can, has signed McDonald’s as a sponsor for Diggit, its children’s weekend GMTV slot aired between 7.10 and 9.25am.

The programme targets children in the three to eight-year age group, to influence which the fast-food purveyor is spending an estimated £1 million ($1.53m; €1.54m). The kids will be wooed by programme idents combining the show’s Happy Hyena character with McDonald’s Big M logo, creative by Leo Burnett London.

Debra Shipley, Labour member of parliament for Stourbridge, is up in arms about the deal – which the US giant insists “fully embraces the need for responsible marketing to children”.

Shipley, member of a hundred-strong cross-party group of MPs, is demanding that the Independent Television Commission stamp-down on the “saturation” of children’s TV by toy manufacturers and fast-food companies. The parliamentary group hold such companies responsible for encouraging unhealthy eating habits among children, as well as the unacceptable pestering of parents.

Talking to UK industry magazine Marketing, Shipley accused the minister responsible for broadcasting – Dr Kim Howells, a tamed leftist broadcaster, now undersecretary of state for culture, media and sport (and whose doctorate is appropriately non-medical) – of an “abdication of responsibility” for failing to introduce a ban on advertising to children on TV.

A parliamentary motion to this effect in March was supported by 118 MPs of all shades – an insufficient number to sway the government.

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff