Whenever a company does something thatís clearly in the public interest, you can be sure that people will be skeptical. Thatís what you have with Disneyís plans to offer healthier foods at its theme parks Ė and to have its name and characters attached to kid-focused foods that meet certain guidelines for calories, fat and sugar. As part of all this, Disney is eliminating trans fats from all the food served at its theme parks by the end of next year. And kids meals will be including apple sauce and carrots instead of french fries.
It's a pretty impressive effort, but after the announcement a consumer advocacy group issued a statement saying that if Disney really cared about kids it would stop selling ads on ABC for junk food and other kinds of unhealthy products. And of course, they have a point. From Broadcasting & Cable:
When asked whether the initiative could extend to limiting ads for sweets and snack foods in its ABC Saturday morning kids block, Walt Disney company spokeswoman Zenia Mucha pointed to a current review of industry self-regulatory guidelines (by CARU, the Chidren's Advertising Review Unit of the Council of Better Business Bureaus), saying that "advertising guidelines will evolve over time and we will monitor those development and make our decision at that point."
In other words, don't hold your breath. In a perfect world, Disney shouldnít run those kinds of ads, but thereís no way that would happen because of the likely impact on earnings and the price of Disney shares. To be fair, it's a lot easier for Disney to do something thatís not going to hurt them at the bottom line, such as serving healthier meals at theme parks. Thatís a no-lose proposition since no one is going to avoid visiting Disneyland because they're giving kids apple sauce. One analyst even expected theme park visitors to spend more money on food because prices for fruit and whole-grain bread are usually more expensive than the stuff thatís not good for you.