Saw this in the news file today: “Chick-fil-A Has a New Children’s Book Loaded with Propaganda to Conceal the Horrors of Corporate Agriculture”
It’s unfortunately nothing new. I have a few books from when I was a small child that bear the stamp of food lucifer McDonald’s in an attempt to lure me to the dark side of chicken and ignorance. I’d like to pretend like it doesn’t imprint upon your consciousness, but I’m pretty sure I have fond memories of playing in the playgrounds and getting Legos or whatever (Berenstain Bears books). Fond memories kept me going into the archway to diabetes and obesity until I randomly saw the light.
But not all are so fortunate to wake up one day and become or be informed. That’s why companies have realized it’s always a good idea to get kids by giving them books about things that are related or that they enjoy- like the Berenstain Bears or in the above linked example, the Jolly Barnyard.
It’s such a perfect marketing ploy because parents don’t want to stop kids from reading, everyone feels guilty throwing a book away, and if your child adores the book, you feel really guilty telling your kid no. Impossible. And that’s why they do it.
If its just something that finds its way into your house, there is still the brand imprinting on the book. If you have a child that reads, this is something they will read and start to know whether they have first hand experience with this “word” or not. Similar experience to the Jolly Barnyard experience of the above parents was a Taco Bell book that came into my house via a give away from a neighbor kid. It looked like a normal book until my little asked what Taco Bell was. Oh well. So much for trying to reduce, reuse, and recycle. When you try to do second hand, apparently these are things that happen.
But then, as the linked article points out, these companies do something else that’s pretty messed up: these companies try to manipulate your thoughts using the stories and food they give you. Chick-fil-A tries to equate their inhumane factory farm conditions with the Jolly Barnyard which is a small, family farm with chickens. Just like the Taco Bell book that made it seem like life was just one big taco fiesta. Kids deserve to know the truth and parents deserve to be able to promote healthy habits like reading in their children without the propaganda and manipulation of corporate interests.
I haven’t seen the branded Jolly Barnyard book so I don’t know how chick-fil-a decided to brand their logo onto the classic Jolly Barnyard, but I do know that this is advertising and there are no limits to what corporations can do when it concerns children and food. Think of Ronald McDonald and the cartoon characters that grace the cereal boxes and fast food restaurant logos. The toys (and books) that come with kid’s meals and junk food geared for kids is unlimited in its product creation and distribution. While cigarette companies and to a lesser extent alcohol companies and even television programming like South Park and Family Guy have been criticized for using mediums and images that children find attractive sending an inappropriate message, fast food companies seem to be impervious to criticism. Strange.
With the environment on the verge of ecological disaster, desertification from mono-cropping and toxic agricultural practices, the loss of bio diversity due to clear-cutting for farmlands and confined animal feedlot operations and the build up of waste matter from these operations in addition to antibiotic resistant bacteria from the terrible conditions the animals are forced to live in and the cocktail of antibiotics they’re injected with just so they’ll live long enough to be profitable and sold off to a place like chick-fil-a… One would start to question the unassailable right of these food corporations to shamelessly brand their logos on children’s merchandise, and appropriate limited edition toys and such.
It’s past high time that corporations be held accountable for using ingredients that are damaging to the earth, that are inhumane, that are not even healthy by most basic standards. By using unscrupulous marketing tactics, kids are taught that these companies have their best interests at heart only it’s simply profits. Kids think happy meals and Jolly Barnyards are the symbols of an organization that cares for them- wants them to have fun and eat yummy food. However, it’s time to acknowledge that what most of these companies do is contribute to rising rates of obesity, animal cruelty, and climate change because of their business practices.
Companies need to be held accountable because the public deserves better. While it ultimately falls on the shoulders of parents to feed their kids and manage their media and product exposures, the freedom without limit or even public dialogue regarding questionable business practices needs to stop.
Either that or find a copy of the same book without the corporate branding. 😉