Organic Consumers Association

Sesame Street Under Fire for Having McDonald's as a Sponsor

Commercial Alert, October 13, 2003

Sesame Street is now "sponsored" by McDonald's, the world's largest fast
food company. (No, we're not kidding.)

Today, Commercial Alert, obesity experts and child advocates sent a letter
to Gary Knell, president of Sesame Workshop, asking him not to show
"sponsorship messages" for McDonald's before or after Sesame Street, a
popular children's TV program on PBS.

Click here <> to check out the new proposed
logo for Sesame Street, designed by our friend Michael Shaw.

1. Forward this note to parents with young children; and,
2. Call your local PBS TV station, and ask them not to run "sponsorship
messages" for McDonald's before or after Sesame Street. You can find the
phone number for your local PBS station using the PBS station finder, at

Following is the letter to Mr. Knell.

Dear Mr. Knell:

As you know, the Sesame Workshop has begun showing "sponsorship messages"
for McDonald's with its popular children's program, Sesame Street.

It is understandable why McDonald's would seek access to Sesame Street's
audience of impressionable young children. But why you would deliver these
children to the corporation is another question. Parents entrust their
children to you because they believe you are trustworthy. We doubt that
enticing kids with junk food is part of that trust.

McDonald's is the world¹s largest fast food chain. It pushes exactly the
kinds of high calorie offerings that have helped to cause an epidemic of
childhood obesity and soaring incidence of type 2 diabetes.

Regrettably, Sesame Street has now become yet another advertising vehicle
for McDonald's to hook a new generation of children on its high calorie junk

Is it really the proper role of Sesame Street to seduce young children to
nag their parents to take them to McDonalds? Should you not promote
healthful eating habits rather than junk food eating habits? Which do you
think the parents who entrust their children to you would prefer?

We ask you to remove these McDonald's "sponsorship messages"from Sesame
Street immediately.


Enola G. Aird, Director, The Motherhood Project, Institute for American
Kelly D. Brownell, PhD, Professor and Chair of Psychology, Yale University;
Director, Yale Center for Eating and Weight Disorders; author, Food Fight
Brian A. Burt, Professor, Department of Epidemiology, University of
Michigan; Director, Program in Dental Public Health
Brita Butler-Wall, PhD, Executive Director, Citizens' Campaign for
Commercial-Free Schools
Nancy Carlsson-Paige, EdD, Professor of Child Development, Lesley University
Greg Critser, author, Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in
the World
Ronnie Cummins, National Director, Organic Consumers Association
Donald R. Davis, PhD, Research Associate in Nutrition, Biochemical
Institute, University of Texas
Leon Eisenberg, MD, Professor of Social Medicine and Psychiatry Emeritus,
Harvard Medical School
Erica Frank, MD, MPH, Vice Chair and Associate Professor, Department of
Family and Preventive Medicine; Emory University School of Medicine
Marnie Glickman, Co-chair, U.S. Green Party
Joan Gussow, EdD, M. S. Rose Professor Emeritus, Nutrition and Education,
Teachers College, Columbia University
Jane M. Healy, author, Failure to Connect and Endangered Minds
Michael Jacobson, Executive Director, Center for Science in the Public
Sut Jhally, Founder and Executive Director, The Media Education Foundation
David L. Katz, MD, MPH, FACPM, Associate Clinical Professor of Public Health
& Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine; Director, Yale Prevention
Research Center
Francine Kaufman, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, Keck School of Medicine,
University of Southern California
Jean Kilbourne, author, Can't Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way
We Think and Feel
Velma LaPoint, PhD, Associate Professor of Child Development, School of
Education, Howard University
Frances Moore Lappe, author, Diet for a Small Planet, co-author, Hope's Edge
Diane Levin, Professor of Education, Wheelock College, author, Remote
Control Childhood
Robert McChesney, Research Professor, University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign; author, Rich Media, Poor Democracy
Jim Metrock, President, Obligation, Inc.
Mark Crispin Miller, Professor of Media Ecology, New York University
Alex Molnar, Professor of Education Policy, Arizona State University;
Director, Education Policy Studies Laboratory; author, Giving Kids the
Diane M. Morrison, Professor and Associate Dean for Research, School of
Social Work, University of Washington
Robert K. Musil, PhD, MPH, Executive Director and CEO, Physicians for Social
Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH, Professor and Chair, Department of Nutrition, Food
Studies, and Public Health, New York University; author, Food Politics and
Safe Food
Harold Pollack, PhD, Associate Professor of Social Service Administration,
University of Chicago
Eric Rimm, ScD, Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition, Harvard
School of Public Health
Vicki Robin, coauthor, Your Money or Your Life
Gary Ruskin, Executive Director, Commercial Alert
Donald Shifrin, MD, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of
Washington School of Medicine
Victor Strasburger, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, Chief, Division of
Adolescent Medicine, University of New Mexico School of Medicine; co-author,
Children, Adolescents, & the Media
V. Susan Villani, MD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins
Medical School

<---------letter ends here ---------->
Commercial Alert is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to
keep the commercial culture within its proper sphere, and to prevent it from
exploiting children and subverting the higher values of family, community,
environmental integrity and democracy.

Commercial Alert has more than 2000 members, representing all 50 states and
the District of Columbia. For more information, or to become a member, go to
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Gary Ruskin | Executive Director | Commercial Alert |
Congressional Accountability Project |
phone: 503.235.8012 | fax: 503.235.5073

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