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Is Toucan Sam to Blame for Childhood Obesity?

Toucan Sam of Froot Loops

As US regulators are proposing new restrictions on advertising junk food to kids, the NY Times asks, “Will Toucan Sam go the way of Joe Camel?”

“Citing an epidemic of childhood obesity, regulators are taking aim at a range of tactics used to market foods high in sugar, fat or salt to children, including the use of cartoon characters like Toucan Sam, the brightly colored Froot Loops pitchman, who appears in television commercials and online games as well as on cereal boxes.”

Like anyone else, I’d love to stamp out childhood obesity and do everything we can to create safer, healthier environments for kids. But I think the government is pointing at the wrong guy (or bird) when they single out Toucan Sam. According to the CDC, childhood obesity among children 6 to 11 was 6.5% in 1980, and then experienced a steep climb — to 19.6% — over the next 30 years.

Toucan Sam started pitching Froot Loops in 1963, though, so what explains his poor performance for the first half of his career? (Joe Camel hit the scene in 1987.) And how does one explain the popularity of Coke, Snickers bars and Twinkies among young people, given that they don’t use cartoon animals in their commercials?

What The Rich Are Reading

Magazines Most Frequently Read Among the Rich

Pulling data from GfK MRI’s Study of the American Consumer, Adweek took a look at what the rich are reading. It’s kind of fun to see The Costco Connection among the most popular magazines. You have to wonder, is it their cost-consciousness that landed them in the top tax bracket?? But what’s more interesting is this: The most popular publications, it turns out, generally aren’t scoring so well when it comes to audience engagement. Among the top 10 most commonly read publications by rich Americans, only Consumer Reports and National Geographic are also top 10-ers when it comes to time spent reading each issue.

Magazines Read Longest Among the Rich

The other key difference between these lists: The magazines most popular among the rich are the same magazines that are most popular with lower-income Americans too. In other words, while Reader’s Digest, AARP and People are popular among older rich people, they’re also popular among older poor people — “wastage” in the eyes of many advertisers. The CPMs are much higher for magazines on the “most time spent” list.

Are they getting premium ad rates because their readers are more engaged, or just because they have fewer readers with low household incomes?

Terry Murphy Joins Pixazza as CFO

Terry Murphy

Welcome aboard, Terry!

“Pixazza, a Google Ventures-backed photo tagging service that has been compared to an ‘AdSense for Images,’ has hired a new executive officer today, appointing Terry Murphy has Chief Financial Officer. The company has also surpassed 100 million unique visitors per month, which is up from 70 million unique visitors per month in March.”

More at TechCrunch.

Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream at Smitten

Jean at NOTCOT encouraged Roma (my daughter) and me to taste the wares at Smitten Ice Cream in Hayes Valley, and she posted our iPhone pictures on her site. She gives me too much credit. The best pics, such as this one, are the product of my 9-year-old’s thumb.


Online Advertisers Spent $26 Billion in 2010

The IAB’s report on 2010 online ad spending published today. Retailers led the charge with 21% of the market, spending $5.5 billion.

2010 Online Ad Spending by Category

Time for me to retire that “Recession” tag?

Google's Biggest Advertisers

Paid search advertising spend (US only) with Google in Q4 2010 as estimated by Kantar Media (Mediapost).

Google's Top Advertisers Paid Search Q4 2010

NYT TV Spot Pitches Paid Model

Pepsi Logo Over Time

Pepsi Logo Over Time

And then, of course, Pepsi changed its logo in 2008 in order to run for president.

Pepsi Logo 2008

More logo evolution over time at

Facebook Social Cigarettes

Facebook Social Cigarettes Poster

A poster in San Francisco on 1st Street between Howard and Mission.

When rogue poster-makers imply that your product is as addictive as nicotine, should you take it as a compliment?

Radio Shack Cellphone Ad from 1990

When a client played this for me today, it took me a second to realize it wasn’t a spoof. A fabulous spoof with 350,000 views. Maybe that’s the secret for brands seeking a viral hit: Re-release your TV commercials from the 80s and 90s!