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Critics take aim at 'Star Wars' meals
Report: Group wants Burger King to pull movie-themed children's meals due to film's PG-13 rating.
May 24, 2005: 10:46 AM EDT
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NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - An entertainment watchdog group is asking Burger King to pull its "Star Wars"-themed children's meals because the latest movie is rated PG-13, according to a published report.

USA Today reported Tuesday that the Dove Foundation is urging Burger King to pull the "Star Wars"-themed Kids Meals from its restaurants because the film is not appropriate for the meals' target market of children ages 4 to 9.

"Star Wars: Episode III, Revenge of the Sith" is the first of the six "Star Wars" movie to be rated PG-13, meaning it has been judged more appropriate for older children, although younger children are allowed to attend. The film, which opened May 19, pulled in a record $158 million in its first four days in theaters.

The newspaper reports that 13 years ago the same group got Burger King competitor McDonald's to apologize for "confusion" from its promotion of the movie "Batman Returns," which was also rated PG-13, with its Happy Meals.

The Dove Foundation describes itself as a non-profit organization established to encourage and promote wholesome family entertainment. Its Web site gave its Dove Family-Approved seal to the latest "Star Wars" movie, although it warned that more graphic violence made it appropriate for children ages 12 and older.

The chairman of the group told USA Today that it is not appropriate for Burger King to help market the film to younger children.

"When Burger King puts that in a Kids Meal, there's an implicit endorsement of the movie," said Dick Rolfe, chairman of the Dove Foundation.

While terms of the promotion deal between Burger King and the filmmakers are not disclosed, the Kids Meals promotion, dubbed "Choose Your Destiny," is the 50-year-old fast-food chain's first global promotion, according to the newspaper.

A Burger King spokeswoman said the promotion is not specific to the latest "Star Wars" movie, only to the whole series of films, with just four of the 31 Kids Meal toys specific to "Episode III."

The toys "clearly celebrate not just one film but the entire 'Star Wars' saga," said Edna Johnson, a Burger King spokeswoman. "The reception at our restaurants and from our customers has been overwhelmingly positive."

But Rolfe said a survey his group conducted of 889 adults and says 83% felt the promotion was not appropriate for kids.

Another critic told the newspaper that filmmaker George Lucas is as much to blame as Burger King for the inappropriate promotion effort.

"It's irresponsible of George Lucas to OK the marketing around this PG-13 movie to young children," says Susan Linn, a Harvard psychologist and author of "Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood."

A spokeswoman for Lucas defended the film's marketing efforts.

"'Star Wars' is broader than a single movie," says Lynn Fox, a LucasFilm spokeswoman. "Parents know that 'Star Wars' has been a positive influence."

For more on the marketing blitzkrieg behind the latest 'Star Wars' movie, click here.  Top of page

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