FTC subpoenas Chuck E. Cheese again for marketing food to kids

Shaggy September 2, 2010 4

Chuck E. Cheese is back in the news but this time it has nothing to do with how adults handle themselves at some CEC locations but with how the company does it marketing. The US Federal Trade Commission has sent subpoenas to 48 companies in regards to how they market to kids and once again the arcade/food chain Chuck E. Cheese is among those in their sights. At the moment there isn’t anything that can really be done to the companies in a legal manner but the FTC is trying as hard as it can to limit advertising to children, giving them “special protection” beyond the laws on the books that already prohibit advertising certain substances to them.  As a father of two young children I can understand the desire to limit the exposure of certain products to kids but I also understand concepts like educating your kids, talking to them and being able to say no if they want something bad for them. It’s really not that difficult. If my kid wanted to go to CEC where a “kid can be a kid” because of an ad he saw then I would have no problem with that as I have no problem with CEC. If some other parent has an issue then they have a choice to not take their kids there and go somewhere else. What a mind-grenade!

Here’s one of those ads that makes the suits at the FTC frown – I’d really like to know how any bureaucrat who finds this sort of stuff bad for kids expects CEC to stay in business by not marketing to their target market. It’s a business made for kids to have fun and have some pizza while doing it. Last I checked, neither pizza nor fun is illegal in the US and I fail to see anything taking advantage of children in any of CEC’s ads to warrant a subpoena – we’re not talking even in the same category as cigarettes or booze here.

Here’s one that’s been on PBS, as CEC sponsors PBS Kids on a regular basis. They have another ad like this(but I can’t find an example online) where it doesn’t even show food or arcades, just tells kids to get outside and play. Oh the humanity! /sarc

Source: Advertising Age


  1. bingo September 2, 2010 at 10:17 pm - Reply

    The downfall of America will in large part come to over regulation from the government. No wonder companies are having a tough time in the U.S. You can’t even breath around here without stepping on some useless government regulation. And from this the government thinks there aren’t enough rules or laws as it is…..

  2. Michael Kohne September 3, 2010 at 1:20 am - Reply

    CEC is NOT the one to go after for advertising food to kids! Their ads really do stress the ‘other stuff’. Much as I DON’T like redemption (WTF -you can’t just play a game to have fun?), their advertising is NOT food-oriented, and frankly isn’t NEARLY as bad as some companies.

    Besides that, their food simply isn’t that good! It’s not like McDonalds where the taste of the food just sucks the kids in – CEC’s pizza is just ‘meh’. We get LOTs better pizza lots of other places. My kids want to go to CEC for games & tickets, not for food!

    Next time they want something like that though, I’m gonna have to think long and hard about taking them to Arnold’s in Oaks, PA. It’s a bit of a drive for us, and I HATE card systems, but it’s got lots more stuff for them to do.

  3. crux September 3, 2010 at 3:22 pm - Reply

    I originally heard about this in regards to McDonald’s. I had the same thoughts of you – as a parent, it seems clear to me that it’s the parent that chooses where their child eats, regardless of the child’s motivations. To that end, Chuck E. Cheese has absolutely no business being targeted for such a lawsuit, as the food is just part of the business. McDonald’s is wholly a restaurant, but Chuck E. Cheese is an arcade that also serves pizza. Are they trying to argue that a venue for kids can’t offer unhealthy food? They should take that to every amusement park in the world.

    That said, I do find it disturbing that corporations like McDonald’s try to bring in children with the allure of toys. I’m not a fan of over regulation, but I’m also not a fan of corporations with the freedom to manipulate their costumers. After all, does anyone think cigarette companies or alcohol companies should be able to advertise to children? I can’t say I’m much more comfortable with fast-food restaurants advertising to children.

  4. Kimone September 3, 2010 at 10:02 pm - Reply

    Chuck E. Cheese…omg quick, make them change their name..it has “cheese” in it so my kids are going to eat too much cheese now.

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