In addition to all the snack products and toys licensed by Dreamworks Animation to promote Madagascar 3, there’s one in particular that has some public health and children’s advocates up in arms — the packages of Claritin featuring the adorable cartoon animals from the movie.
According to a complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission by the Public Health Advocacy Institute at Northeastern University School of Law and 10 other groups, pharma biggie Merck crossed the line by using Madagascar 3 to market Grape-Flavored Chewable Children’s Claritin and grape-flavored syrup.
From the letter:
This campaign is in violation of longstanding FTC precedent to protect children from child-directed marketing of OTC supplements and, by extension, OTC drugs… Dreamworks licensed its Madagascar characters for use on a number of children’s food products including General Mills’ fruit-flavored gummy snacks and fruit-flavored Airheads candy. The use of the same licensed characters on fruit-flavored OTC allergy medication, children’s candy and children’s gummy snacks creates a very real danger of product confusion and may induce children to over-consume Grape-Flavored Children’s Claritin allergy medication.
In a statement to the Philadelphia Inquirer, a Merck responded to the letter: “We advertise in appropriate venues to reach those parents of children who may benefit from the use of children’s Claritin, not to the children themselves.”