Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Nickelodeon Not Doing The Right Thing: 8 Contemporary Examples

During the first eight months of this year Nickelodeon time and again demonstrated arrogance, insensitivity, and lack of concern for children.

Itemized below are eight incidents of Nickelodeon activities that merit your inspection. Notably, in spite of the fact Nickelodeon has been called out for many of these activities, the company did little if anything to answer its critics.

1. Nickelodeon and G.I. Joe

During premier week of the big budget action thriller G.I. Joe, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood issued a press release (above) and sent a petition to the FTC urging enforcement of MPAA guidelines on the marketing of PG-13 films to children under 13.

The title and subtitle of the release gets right to the point:

Parents to FTC: Don't Surrender Our Children to G.I. Joe
Thousands sign CCFC petition to stop the marketing of violent PG-13 movies to young children

That same day, the homepage of featured two large G.I. Joe ads. One was the largest ad on the page:

The other GI Joe ad was placed directly above the Nickelodeon logo at the top of the page:

The MPAA defines PG-13 as: "Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13."

As such, why is Nickelodeon advertising the PG-13 G.I. Joe on the first page of, a landing destination for Nick's core audience: children under 13.

2. Nickelodeon and Make-A-Wish

Recently a Twitter user publicly asked NickelodeonPR if they would do anything special for a Make-A-Wish child on his way to a Nickelodeon Hotel.

NickelodeonPR did not publicly...or privately...respond to the request on behalf of a child with a terminal illness.

3. Nickelodeon and the SpongeBob Booty Call

This past spring thousands of parents got angry when Burger King released a commercial featuring SpongeBob dancing to such lyrics as "I like square butts and I cannot lie," a remix of a Sir-Mix-A-Lot song from the 1990's. The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood objected to the commercial's overt sexualization of women and mounted a campaign (below) to pressure BK and Nick to pull the ad.

Burger King and Nickelodeon did not pull the ad.

They defended it instead.

"The ad targets adults" they said.

4. Nickelodeon and the "Cowardly" Kids Choice Awards

This past winter Chris Brown was arrested and charged with beating up his girlfriend Rihanna.

Several weeks later Brown was scheduled to appear on Nickelodeon's Kids Choice Awards. Nickelodeon wouldn't rescind its invitation to Brown to appear, stating he was a kids' choice, not Nickelodeon's.

That didn't sit well with everyone.

Most notably it didn't sit well with CNN's Campbell Brown, who delivered an on-air rebuke of Nickelodeon:

Brown has a lot to answer for when he goes before the judge to face felony charges, but Nickelodeon in my view also has a lot to answer for now given its cowardly response.

As we told you last night, the channel refused to take Brown out of the running, saying he was nominated by kids months ago ... it is for the kids to decide.

Never mind the fact he stands accused of a heinous crime against an innocent woman, and never mind the fact a national audience of kids could naturally assume his nomination (and possible win) must mean everything is somehow OK.

It's a position Nick stuck by even as we, and others, received an avalanche of comments from people blasting the decision.

Only after Brown, himself, chose to withdraw did the network release a meager statement saying it agrees with his decision.

So where were you when it counted, Nickelodeon?

It didn't sit well with Perez Hilton, either, who was so appalled by Nick's lack of leadership that he called for a boycott of Nickelodeon:

5. Nickelodeon And Pitting Dora Against Time Warner

Last fall Viacom, Nickelodeon's corporate parent, found itself in a contentious contract re-negotiation with cable operator Time Warner over license fees. Viacom demanded increases to the payments Time Warner makes to Viacom on 19 networks. Time Warner said no to the increases.. Each side held tightly to it position.The deadline for an agreement was December 31. If no deal was made by that midnight, Time Warner would flip the switch. All 19 channels would go dark.

That morning in newspapers across the country parents discovered full page ads of either SpongeBob SquarePants or Dora the Explorer in tears with the following headline: "

Why is Dora Crying?

According to the Viacom ads, Dora is crying because Time Warner was taking Dora of the air.

Viacom would like you to believe that Time Warner bullied your children's favorite character into tears.

Angry calls from parents poured into Time Warner's switchboards.

"How can you take SpongeBob away from my kids?"

Time Warner capitulated.

Terms of a deal were reached before midnight.

Child exploitation if ever there was child exploitation, because we both know Dora wasn't crying over Time Warner.

Don't we?

6. Nickelodeon and Suspicious Internet Fan Sites

I discovered iCarlyFans on Twitter not long after I began using the social media service. I started up a conversation with the site's operator. Over several weeks we had exchanged comments. On a Sunday evening last spring iCarlyFans and I had another conversation.

It didn't take long before iCarlyFans became defensive and antagonistic with me. When asked, he/she refused to divulge his/her name or age. I told iCarlyFans that some of my students were monitoring the conversation. (The testimony of one can be found at Cuddling Chaos.)

The voice of iCarlyFans became surly, petulant, and suspicious. Over the next few days iCarlyFans would call me a bully and a coward. Then he/she blocked me.

Although iCarlyFans states in its bio it is not affiliated with Nickelodeon, do children understand this when they see as the Twitterer's avatar?

Four weeks ago today I raised the question to NickelodeonPR on Twitter. What assurances will Nickelodeon give to parents and children that Nick is doing everything in its power to protect kids from Internet predators and pedophiles who might be lurking behind unauthorized use of Nickelodeon logos and avatars?

Will we ever know?

Nickelodeon did not respond to my initial inquiry. The more Nick avoided other questioners and me, the more questions I asked. I solicited others to ask Nick questions. The questions piled up. (Do a TwitterSearch for "NickelodeonPR." You will see I overwhelmingly dominate their conversation.)

Most aggravating, while the questions piled up for NickelodeonPR, they just Twittered away in self promotion, utterly ignoring anyone who had commented or placed an inquiry before them.

7. Nickelodeon And Killing Prostitutes Jokes

On Monday of this week Nickelodeon launched the new primetime series Glenn Martin, DDS for families about a family on an adventure in a motor home. produced by former Disney CEO Michael Eisner.

Early in the first episode jokes are made about killing prostitutes.

Very funny?

No wonder someone slapped this warning on the official trailer for the show.


Hmmm...Does make you wonder what kind of "family programming" is inappropriate for children under 13.

8. Nickelodeon And Social Media Fumble-Bumbling

Defying the fundamental principles of social media since its arrival on Twitter, NickelodeonPR has not responded to one question from any constituent. There is no two-conversation taking place. There is no trust building. There is no transparency. At Sumner Redstone's Nickelodeon it's business as usual.

Command. Control. Broadcast.

But that's old school.

Today, Command+Control+Broadcast=Fail

That's why I say:

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