Consumer watchdog groups have long criticized Hollywood for allowing its characters to market junk food to children. But the studios may soon start to gain some inroads with critics: In the latest move to appease concerns, Warner Bros.’ Looney Tunes empire is gearing up to embrace healthy eating.
The studio has paired with Safeway, the nation’s fourth-largest supermarket chain, to promote its Eating Right Kids line of food and beverages, rolling out on store shelves this summer.
As part of the deal, Warner Bros. said it will no longer feature its Looney Tunes characters on unhealthy food packaging, other than certain ice cream products or birthday cakes.19
“We’ve cleared the market of anything that might be considered unhealthy,” said Brad Globe, prexy of Warner Bros. Worldwide Consumer Products. “Our Looney Tunes characters are our crown jewels. We said, ‘Hey, we need to figure out how we can be part of some kind of solution and use our characters in a positive way that will improve the issues related to childhood obesity.'”
As part of a licensing deal with Warner’s consumer products unit, Safeway’s Eating Right Kids packaging will exclusively feature such characters as Bugs Bunny, Tweety, Taz, Sylvester, Wile E. Coyote, Roadrunner, Marvin the Martian and Daffy Duck.
Financial terms of the licensing deal were not disclosed.
Overall product line covers more than 100 items across 30 categories including breakfast foods, portable meals, dairy, snacks and beverages. Products are formulated based on the most recent dietary recommendations from several federal and state agencies, including the Dept. of Health and Human Services, the Dept. of Agriculture, Alliance for a Healthier Generation, as well as California’s school nutrition guidelines.
According to Safeway, the Looney Tunes characters will help make it easy for moms to spot healthier food options for their kids.
“Integrating such well-recognized characters into our brand architecture will make the line more attractive to our target audience,” said Mike Minasi, Safeway’s prexy of marketing.
New line, a spinoff of Safeway’s successful adult-targeted Eating Right brand, launched last year, has already started appearing on store shelves at the grocer’s 1,700 stores.
Deal is the latest effort by studios to push healthier eating. Disney no longer promotes its films through McDonald’s and has recently stayed away from junk food manufacturers as promotional partners. Meanwhile, DreamWorks Animation has featured Shrek in anti-obesity campaigns.
Warner Bros. considers the deal as a way to turn its iconic characters into “ambassadors of health and fitness,” according to Warner Bros. chairman-CEO Barry Meyer.
“This partnership with Safeway allows us to utilize the Looney Tunes characters’ enduring popularity with kids and teens to promote a lifestyle choice that’s healthier for them,” Meyer said.