by Marion Nestle
Feb 19 2009

CSPI’s latest campaign: Topps marketing

I am interested to see that the Center for Science in the Public Interest has taken on Topps marketing as a new campaign, and for good reason.  Topps, famous for chewing gum and baseball trading cards, makes a bunch of candies aimed at kids, one of them in the shape of infant feeding bottles. Disney is now using a kids’ music group – the Jonas Brothers - to promote the baby bottle candy.  Not a good idea.

In 2007, Michael Eisner, the former head of Disney bought Topps from the family firm that had owned it for decades.    Long before the sale, I once had lunch with Arthur Shorin, the former owner of Topps.  I was impressed by his responsible attitude about marketing candy to children.  He was facing a difficult problem.  Without doing irresponsible marketing, he couldn’t sell enough candy to stay in business.  Hence the sale to Eisner. At the time, Mr. Shorin said “This will be a change in ownership, not a change in direction.” Well, that’s business for you.

Update February 20: thanks to Dan for the correction.  Fixed.

  • tmana

    This is particularly interesting, as Nick Jonas is very “out” about his Type 1 (autoimmune) diabetes. While current management techniques make it much less dangerous than it used to be for people with diabetes to eat junk food, everything I see in both social networks and professional publications indicate that the most effective ways of managing chronic diseases all include strict attention to a healthy, as-close-to-the-earth-as-is-practical, diet.

    Then the candy design — the theme of returning schoolchildren to the dependency of infancy — is also disturbing, as it advocates the mind-numbing thoughtlessness associated with uncritically accepting whatever (expletives deleted) Big Food, Big Pharma, and Big Government throw at us… at face value.

  • Dan

    Correction: Topps isn’t owned by Disney, but by a consortium headed by Eisner, who no longer works for Disney. Disney, in fact, has since Eisner left implemented policies banning this sort of thing.