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MNB had a story last Friday about a new study saying that a dramatic reduction in fast food advertising to young people could have a significant impact on the nation’s childhood obesity crisis.

My comment:

There will probably be a call for legislation that will control the amount of advertising that fast food companies can use to target children…though maybe not in the immediate future, since one hopes that Congress has a few more important things on its collective minds at the moment. While I am sympathetic to the cause, I wonder if we could also craft legislation that would force parents to actually be parents, not contestants in popularity contents with their kids as judges. After all, if parents exert some control over what their kids eat, maybe we wouldn’t have to worry about television commercials.

Then again, it is easier to ban the ads.

One MNB user responded:

While I agree somewhat with you on your stance on parents’ role in being parents and exerting control over what their kids eat, I do think you are being too hard on parents here. Or perhaps, just not addressing the true problem. I do think that some parents may be trying to be “contestants in popularity contents with their kids as judges” but I think the real challenge is that parents are just busy (and tired). They are working a lot (and probably even more – if they still have a job – in this economy) and they get home and fast food is easy and for the effort it takes, relatively cheap. And since their kids see ads on it all day long, it also eliminates a fight with the kids.

Now, eliminating ads is one thing but this only points to the opportunity grocery stores continue to have but also refuse to capitalize on. They need to figure out ways to make shopping and cooking quick, easy and relatively healthy (it doesn’t take much to be healthier than fast food). Teach their consumers how to meal plan, how to shop, how to make cooking fun for the whole family.

The grocery store is one of the few places most of us still go to at least weekly. Grocers need to capitalize on that. Why shouldn’t every grocer have an end cap on display right now that says “feed your family for $XX tonight” with all the ingredients right there and maybe a recipe card to top it off!!!

MNB user David White wrote:

Once again I am flabbergasted by the thought that we can enact legislation to take the place of good parenting. The problem is not advertising, but too many parents unwilling to be the “bad guy” and make decisions that are in the best interest of the child.

Just the other day, my 6 year old and I were having a daddy-son day and he wanted to go to McDonald’s for a Happy Meal. I had a choice – I could give in and be his buddy, or I could do the right thing and say no, which would mean he would be unhappy. I informed him, gently but firmly, that we were not going to McDonald’s but would have lunch together at home so we could eat something better for us. He was unhappy and whined a little, but he was over it within a few minutes and we had a great day.

It is my job to make sure that he eats well and learns to make wise decisions. It is not a hard job, but I can’t worry about being popular. As he grows up, he will appreciate it.

MNB user Pat Patterson wrote:

For decades the people of this country have used the legislative process attempting to force the populace into changing their lifestyle. The intent of this legislation is well intended but has never proven especially effective. It failed with prohibition, hasn't stopped part of the nation from committing suicide by smoking and global warming by all reports is real. With this history of failure, why do we think legislation limiting fast food ads will correct or slow obesity? If you were to consider hiring our legislators as a group to run your company you would pass given their history of failure and mis-decision.

Legislation isn't the answer, parents are. Whatever happened to adults like my Mom, "we don't have the money for you to be eating that trash," or "get off your lazy butt and go outside and play." Parents have to be the enforcing agency, they are the ones who have to step up to their responsibilities and teach children proper habits including eating, morals, ethics and education, just to name a few areas. But then, I was an infantry sergeant and was trained to simplify everything, get to the heart of the matter.

Several years ago I had a conversation with a set of parents complaining about what their teenaged son watched on TV. I observed that they had the final control, just turn the thing off. "Oh no," the dad said, "then I have to listen to him complain." Do we see the problem?

Parents get involved.

MNB user Ellen Ornato wrote:

Kids don’t drive, right? And last time I looked all the food in our house was purchased by either my husband or me, not by our daughters. I won’t get into the politics of our nation right now but it’s absurd to think that our lawmakers will spend one iota of time on this “issue” while Rome is burning.

On another subject, MNB user Nicole Schubert had some thoughts about last Friday’s assessment of the new James Bond movie, “Quantum of Solace”:

I totally agree with your assessment of the new Bond movie. As a life-long fan of the films, I was blown away by Casino Royale - I thought it was the best Bond film since Goldfinger (and had one of the best theme songs ever!). I thought Quantum of Solace did a great job of staying true to the brave new Bond world that Casino Royale created.

When I hear the complaints about Quantum, they all boil down to the same thing: People miss the familiar clichés they could always expect from a Bond film. Well, familiarity often leads way to complacency, and that is exactly what most of the more recent Bond movies had been about: a litany of sorely out-dated clichés, over-acting, winks at the audience... and not much else.

The new Bond movies have a firm grasp on how the world has changed, and how audiences expect those changes to be reflected in Bond's world. I've read criticism of the lack of "gadgets" in the new Bond movie...but the Apple-inspired plasma computer wall in M's office in Quantum - that's what gadgets are today, not invisible cars and exploding pens. I've read criticism that the villain in Quantum is so physically puny that he's no threat. But that's what villains look like today - they're greedy CEOs and corrupt politicians, not muscle-bound Cold War spies. The people behind these new Bond movies, and the new Batman movies as well - they get it. Be true to the iconography and the fantasy, but make it compelling by making it current. There are business lessons in all of this, of course. Don't underestimate the consumer's openness to the new and different. Ignore the changing consumer world at your own peril.

Deliver more than is expected, and engender loyalty.

P.S. As I write this, I am wearing the Dr. No watch from the new line of Bond Villains watches from Swatch. Super cool!

And another MNB user chimed in:

Great point on the Re-branding of Bond. It was a risk, but necessary, as the franchise was fading in my opinion. I would point out, however, that the producers didn't abandon the old brand altogether. Yes, they re-tooled the character and tone, but they acknowledged the Bonds of the past. In Casino Royale, the shot of Daniel Craig in swimsuit at the beach and the "shaken or stirred?" comment from the bartender were both sly references for long-time fans. In Quantum, the recipe for Bond's favorite martini is described but not named. Those who read the books know he named it The Vesper.

These may seem minor, but they provide reference points for those who grew up with Bond. They help make us feel "in" with the new franchise. When looking to update an older brand, marketers can do well to have some ties to the past in order to keep the old audiences, while re-invigorating the brand to appeal to new ones.

KC's View: