New Nicktoons Show Called Out For Being Just One Huge Skechers Ad

Viacom must be really hurting for cash. First, they give Spike viewers 10-minute commercial breaks during Entourage and in October, their Nicktoons channel will begin airing Zevo-3, which a children’s advocacy group says is nothing but an extended ad for Skechers.

The show, which debuts Oct. 11 and is the first production of Skechers Entertainment, is the subject of a complaint filed with the FCC by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.

In addition to being a Skechers production, the characters on the show will also be featured in ads for Skechers shoes. The CCFC says that three of Zevo-3’s main characters — Elastika, Kewl Breeze and Z-Strap — each embody a different Skechers shoe line.

“It’s clear that Skechers and Nicktoons are flouting the policies established by Congress to protect children from excessive commercialism,” said the CCFC’s director, calling the show “a 22-minute commercial masquerading as a kids’ TV show.”

You’ll never guess what Skechers and Viacom had to say about the allegations.

“We’ve all worked hard to ensure that we are within the parameters of F.C.C. requirements,” said a rep for the sneaker company-turned-cartoon-producer. “While we commend the goals of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood to watch over the airwaves [the show is worthwhile because it has] strong and positive characters who deal with issues that kids confront on a regular basis, from peer pressure to family relationships.”

A rep for Viacom’s MTV Networks division was a little less flowery: “This show does not violate the Children’s Television Act. We obviously wouldn’t air it if it did.”

Is Skechers’ approach any different than what Hasbro and other toy companies did with GI Joe, He-Man, Thundercats, My Little Pony and others during our childhood?

Coming Children’s Show Draws Complaints [NY Times]


Edit Your Comment

  1. DanRydell says:

    In other news, Transformers and G.I. Joe were just ads for toys.

    • Hi_Hello says:

      hahah. the new transformer that was one fox for awhile felt like a loooooong commerical to me. I thought it was just me.
      the lastest transformer seems to have a decent story line… I wonder what happen to it.

      • zaku2s274 says:

        The new Transformers series seemed to be a huge ad to publicize the new Chevy Camaro.

        • Phil Villakeepinitrreal says:

          No, you’re thinking of the movies. The poster you’re replying to is speaking of Transformers: Animated. Incidentally, despite being the first good quality Transformers show since Beast Wars, it was cancelled by Cartoon Network, who had partnered with Hasbro to create the series.

    • BDSanta2001 says:

      Jem and the Holograms

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Both were actually entertaining. You could easily argue they weren’t educational, but they were certainly not a 22-minute commercial.

      We’ll have to see if the Sketchers show is more….sketchy.

      • Scuba Steve says:

        Man some of them were really just ads though. Like the Transformer’s Armada.. that was bad. With the “Gotta collect them all-i-cons”

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      Now you know, and knowing is half the battle!

      • djshinyo says:

        Thanks to knowing being half the battle I know to never climb into a refrigerator that’s in a junk yard. Thanks Sgt. Slaughter!

    • suburbancowboy says:

      Every one of those cartoons had a hundred characters, just so they could sell a hundred different toys, and vehicles for each of the characters. He-Man, GI Joe, Transformers etc.
      Hell, by the time Return of the Jedi rolled around, that movie was simply a device for selling toys.
      Lucas put in the Ewoks because he saw a marketing bonanza with it.

      Then came Pokemon and Yu-gi-oh. The entire plot of these shows revolved around collecting things!!! Collecting things that you could buy in a store. A pack of cards (which when I was little would sell for a quarter) that they were selling for 6 bucks.

      • DanRydell says:

        No way, George had all six movies thought up before he made Star Wars and made them exactly the way he originally wanted to, except when technology prevented him from doing things (such as making Han Solo shoot Greedo without provocation – he didn’t develop the technology for that until the 90s).

  2. Arimer says:

    There’s actually a made for tv movie coming on NIck soon about Lego’s Called Hero factory or something.

    • Julia789 says:

      Yeah my kid is looking forward to that movie. There was an ad for it in his Lego builder magazine. He’s a 9-year-old Lego nut. And coincidentally, we just returned from a vacation at… Lego Land.

      Legos are freaking expensive (the kits not just the plain blocks) I hope this is a phase. ;-)

      He loves building with the plain blocks plenty, but pines for the Lego Star Wars kits and special project kits for birthdays and Christmas.

      • Conformist138 says:

        I hate to tell you this, but my best friend is still dealing with a certain someone’s “Lego phase” and I’ll give you a hint: It’s not her kid.

        • Milch says:

          Im 30 and still have my Legos from my childhood. Although its great that my sons love them now, I dont see all the blocks hitting the trash like old used action figures or the current trends. But I still get the Lego catalogs and they have more and more sets geared for older interests.

  3. rpm773 says:

    We need more wholesome cartoons on TV.

    Cartoons like He-Man, which promoted being physically fit.

  4. rubicthecube says:

    Don’t want your kids watching commercials? That’s a tough one. If only there was something else that could keep kids busy. Reading is out of the question, who the hell wants a smart kid? Go outside to play? Nah, tv warned me about stranger danger. Go to a museum? Nah, my kid could get lost and wind up as t-rex chow. In case you can’t tell, I’m being sarcastic. Parents who complain about what their kids watch on tv, should be more like a, um, what’s the word I’m looking for? Oh yeah, a PARENT.

    • brianary says:

      I’m more worried about the parents that DON’T care. The kid that watches this crap may end up being my son’s McSupervisor.

      • rubicthecube says:

        I got another scare for you. Remember what the people who dropped out of high school were like. Those same people are now handling your medical records thanks to trade schools.

    • Poisson Process says:

      Well thanks Mr. Negativity. A bet a whole lot of people who work for CCFC are parents. This is their way of doing the right thing. Furthermore, even good parents have to go to work on a regular basis. No parent has complete control their child’s 5 senses 24 hours a day. What’s wrong with an NGO putting some pressure on those in power in order to help out working parents?

    • DariusC says:

      Does anyone remember the commercial for Air Raiders? Back in the day? They showed it like 3 times in a row on nick all the time?

      Yeah, I try not to as well…

  5. thewritejerry says:

    The villain’s name is Stankfoot.

    Right there is the public service angle for the show: “Kids, wash your feet!”

  6. hotcocoa says:

    Looks like a lame cartoon, even if you take out the commercial-yness of it.

  7. brianary says:
  8. intense_jack says:

    I was wondering which came first for a while – the toy or the cartoon. I mean, Masters of the Universe, Transformers, G.I. Joe were all about promoting the next toy that I would have to buy, no matter how ridiculous.
    Recently it seems Lucas is more interested in selling toys than making a decent movie or cartoon series.
    And trust me, the He-Man cartoons were not just promoting being physically fit… I mean, He-Man literally defied physics on a regular basis and his alter-ego Prince Adam wore some interesting pants… and by pants I mean tights.

    • PlumeNoir - Thank you? No problem! says:

      And don’t forget – he wore an awful lot of pink, too.

      • YOXIM says:

        Pink is the new black. Nothing wrong with that. I think if there was one thing He-Man promoted it’s steroids. Even Hulk Hogan would take one look at He-Man and say “That motherfucker is juicing!”.

  9. alanjstr says:

    When I first heard the story on the radio, my immediate reaction was to object. And then I realized that children’s products are so over-commercialized already, that there really is no difference. How many Dora products are out there. What about Disney? If the tv show Zevo-3 came first, would anyone be objecting?

    For us adults, someone had the short-lived idea to have Cave Men as the stars of a recent tv show.

    • quijote says:

      Yeah, it’s true that it’s not much different, but that doesn’t mean not still objectionable. Cases like this just bring the problem into relief.

    • Buckus says:

      But in Dora’s case, they’re selling toys of the show. The show is not selling toys (explicitly). Skechers, on the other hand, is only selling Skechers. The show probably has no other redeeming quality.

  10. t-spoon says:

    I don’t care what anybody says, He-Man and GI Joe and the like were just good cartoons. Hell yeah they sold toys, but kids were going to be attracted to army guys and dudes with swords regardless.

    No kid would give a rats ass about “Elastika, Kewl Breeze and Z-Strap” unless it was being sold to them.

  11. donkeydonkeypublicbathroom says:

    Anyone else think Z-Strap stound dirty?

  12. Bativac says:

    Jesus Christ, Nickelodeon, are you serious? Elastika, Kewl Breeze and Z-Strap? Do you think kids are completely stupid? No self-respecting kid is going to watch anything where a lead character’s name includes the word “kewl.”

    Like a lot of other posters here, I grew up on Real Ghostbusters, Ninja Turtles and He-Man. I had the toys (and yet somehow made it to adulthood unscathed). At least those guys were trying. Give us a concept, SOMETHING besides tennis shoe mascots.

    How about you premier the “SCRUBBING BUBBLES – RAID ROACHES HOUR” next on MTV?

  13. cmdr.sass says:

    Saturday mornings just aren’t the same without The Mattel and Mars-Bar Quick Energy Chocobot Hour.

    “Put down those entertaining Mattel products!”

  14. UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

    You will never stand between me and my Pokeymans!

    Oh, wait, this is for Sketchers? Eff that. BANNINATE THEM.

  15. Cameraman says:

    When my son was born, I (in a fit of optimism) made my wife promise that we would never buy an article of clothing without a cartoon character on it.

    Fast forward three years, minus one job (my wife’s), and we cannot afford to shop for kid’s clothes anywhere but Walmart and Target… and EVERY SINGLE boy’s briefs has a cartoon character. So I’ve since downgraded to “no visible cartoon characters”.

    • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

      I’m confused. You promised your wife you’d never buy clothing without a cartoon character on it?

      And now you’re just fulfilling that promise?

      The double negatives hurtses our brain, precious.

  16. AI says:

    Yes, this is different than He-man and Transformers and the other classic 80’s marketing shows. Those were all awesome shows, that even though were designed to sell products, were still well written and entertaining on their own. Another difference, is that He-man the show wasn’t about buying He-man the toy (unlike a certain show about pocket monsters).

  17. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    I’m sorry – I must have missed the part where not every kid’s TV show in the world is tied directly into merchandising…oh wait, no I didn’t. Every kid’s TV show is the world is tied directly into merchandising.

  18. Cicadymn says:

    Don’t forget the NFL propaganda cartoon Rush Zone. With what can only be viewed as no animation budget, and 5 minute run times.

    The advertising for Rush Zone must have overlapped the entire length of the series dozens of times over by now. Every commercial break for the past several months has had a 2-3 minute commercial for that garbage. And during each show you’re treated to another 2-3 minute advert that literally takes up at the very least 1/3rd of the screen. It’s basically all black with a tiny rush zone logo on the corner. So 1/3rd of the screen is black for almost no reason.

    Seriously getting bad.

  19. Suisei says:

    Why should it matter whether the product comes before or after a TV Show of some sort? This has been done for pretty much any popular cartoon/show for as long as I can remember. If people can make money off of something, its going to happen. I think its up to the parents to let their chidren know why they are not getting such a thing, and be honest about it. Example: I remember watching Captian Planet religiously during my childhood (well, I still watch it on youtube) which carried a very decent story line, and they had a pretty decent line of action figures. Granted, the only reason I had everything was because the Captain Planet Foundation (not sure what it was called then) donated a portion of the proceeds to help save rainforests and whatever, and was a pretty good justification in their eyes.

  20. dolemite says:

    And yet, GI Joe, Transformers and He-Man were not cartoons made just to sell toys?

  21. FilthyHarry says:

    Can’t be as bad as the “The Mattel & Mars Bar Quick Energy Chocobot Hour”

  22. SiddhimaAmythaon says:

    The line has been getting finer and finer is recent years. I am a big CCG fan and i was surprised Yu-Gi-Oh was allowed to air in the USA. A show about kids who save the world by playing a card game that requires you to speed $100s of year to be competitive.

  23. W10002 says:

    Well, ‘The Wizard’ was just an extended ad for Nintendo as well.

  24. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    it might be refreshing to watch something that doesn’t even try to hide it.
    i was really enjoying the new show ‘the glades’ until i started getting distracted by trying to spot how many times they mention the special features of each characters’ vehicles along with the brand names.
    like the one i watched last night: “nice sorrento, but heated seats? really? in florida?” “we have a couple of cold days in the winter and they’re really worth it then”
    at least if the cartoon is ALL about skechers then you don’t have to pretend it’s supposed to have a plot or a point.

    • MrEvil says:

      Chuck is guilty of this too. They’ve recently been slathering on the Subway commercials like fucking mayo.

      When a character goes into a three minute monologue about a breakfast muffin sandwich from Subway, you know some shit is up.

      Also, don’t get me started on that new Knight Rider series (that thankfully lasted just one season) where every episode was a 42 minute commercial for Ford.

  25. syzygy says:

    Yeah, this has happened, is happening, and will continue to happen. Nicktoons is also airing the NFL-shilling Rush Zone and LEGO-shilling Hero Factory. The problem is not the networks or corporations; it’s a free country, and they’re welcome to produce and market their wares however they wish, as long as they’re safe and legal for kids to consume. Sneakers and building blocks are hardly dangerous.

    It’s the job of the parents to recognize this programming for what it is, and either put up with it if they don’t see anything wrong with it or, if they don’t mind the hawking (and the possibility of buying all the crap their kids will whine for), let the kids watch it.

    • syzygy says:

      Ugh. “either/or” only works if the choices are different. Let’s try that again:

      It’s the job of the parents to recognize this programming for what it is, and either put up with it if they don’t see anything wrong with it or, if they don’t want the hawking (and the possibility of buying all the crap their kids will whine for), turn it off.

  26. Cliff_Donner says:

    I miss Linus the Lionhearted:

  27. Outrun1986 says:

    Why do I fail to see how a child would actually become interested in a TV show trying to sell them shoes?? Yes, they would be like mom can I have a pair of sketchers but its not like its advertising a toy that a kid can actually play with which makes them want the item more, thus the parents are more likely to buy it for them if its a toy or a video game. I suspect a parent saying no would diffuse this situation easily. Most kids who are able to understand this show, probably don’t give a care about what is on their feet as long as it doesn’t cause pain.

  28. lain1k says:

    Simpsons did it. “The Mattel and Mars Bar Quick Energy Chocobot Hour”

  29. spunkmonkey says:

    I say who cares? I can’t imagine it being any more obviously a 1/2 hour long commercial than the GI Joe cartoons I watched as a kid (and then begged my parents for the toys at Wal-Mart). Here’s the funny thing, my parents said no 99% of the time. As long as the parents are the gateway to the money (and do actual parenting) I could care less.

  30. Cyniconvention says:

    So…what is Pokemon?

  31. scientific progress goes boink says:

    Do people really still use “kewl” these days? LMAO, this cartoon looks incredibly lame. There have been tons of cartoons used to push product lines, I distinctly remember loving Jem and GI Joe… and wasn’t the original TMNT really just a pizza commercial? I think that if you’re going to make a cartoon centric around a product line you should at least be required to make it a good show. This looks like it should be at the bottom of the $1 bin next to the Bibleman DVDs.

  32. Darrone says:

    It’s an interesting line. But incorporating a pre-existing character (joe, he-man, etc) into a cartoon is different than designing a character around a line of products.

  33. masso says:

    Really guys… No mentioning of POKEMON!?

    You have to catch’em all to be the very best.

  34. JeremieNX says:

    And America is turning into a vast culture-less wasteland one sloppy tapioca brain at a time…

  35. MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

    So wait, if I record this on my DVR, am I supposed to skip the whole thing, or just skip the cartoon and watch the commercials?

    I’m so confused!!

    (PBS Kids FTW!)

  36. crb042 says:

    GI Joe, He-Man, Thundercats, My Little Pony and others were toys that had character. They are objects that drew out imagination into play scenarios. Their cartoons were just one expression of such – seeing on the screen an adventure similar to what a kid would actually make up in play. (OK, still lazier than actual play, but such is TV.)

    By comparison, shoes are… well, just shoes. This is a cartoon about characters wearing the *actual product*. It’d be like making a show about kids who play with GI Joe toys every episode.

  37. sumocat says:

    Amateurs. Had they studied Transformers, GI Joe, etc., they’d know the way to skirt the law is to make a comic book about the product first, then make a cartoon about the comic. Yet another reason to support comic books.

  38. incident_man says:

    They wouldn’t be making a “show” out of it unless they expected the “show” to sell stuff.

  39. IceCat says:

    Actually this sort of advert cartoon show has been around 1969, when I was 8 years old there was a Saturday morning cartoon based on the Hot Wheels toys, It lasted 1 season before it got canceled for it’s advert content, it sold toys, as for content it was pretty lame otherwise.

    See here for details:

    So yea this is nothing new, and the idea predates the 80’s toy advert cartoons by 20+ years, and the latest round of advert kid shows we get now.

  40. Draw2much says:

    Why is it a bad thing? I mean the concept itself: having a cartoon basically be a giant ad for a toy or whatever? They did it in the 80s and before in the USA and they’re still doing it in Japan. It didn’t hurt kids then and it certainly won’t be hurting them now. I never understood why we stopped doing it in the US. o_0

    Anywho, this cartoon looks laaaame. If you’re gonna do a 30 min cartoonmercial, at least make it interesting and fun. This just looks dumb. ~_~;

  41. MongoAngryMongoSmash says:

    I’m sorry but did the word “No” leave the English language?

    As in, “Mom, I want Skechers like that awesome cartoon character!”


  42. Anonymously says:

    Talk about following the letter of the law instead of the intent….sheesh.

  43. frugalmom says:

    Oh jeez, this explains why my 3 year old keeps asking to watch the Skechers show. They must have been running commercials for the show that I mistook for an actual sneaker commercial.

  44. StevePierce says:

    Remember Fred Flintstone in Winston cigarette ads. The Show was sponsored by Winston when it was aired in Primetime during the family hour on ABC

  45. Senator says:

    Reminds me of The Mattel and Mars Bar Quick Energy Chocobot Hour.

  46. Aph says:

    Ya GI Joe did get away with it. So did Exo Squad. I remember I bought alot of Exo Squad toys. But I also look back and remember how deeply Exo Squad pointed out the themes of slavery especially within the context of the US.
    So I totally don’t know how to feel about watching Nick cartoons.
    I can say this. Even at that age I was gulping down commercial content but in the end the exposure left me to question it.

  47. jjcraftery says:

    Will there be a gay character called “Twinkle Toes”???

  48. Mogbert says:

    I guess it will come down to how well the show goes. Transformers supposedly was jsut a big commercial, but if so it was an awesome one with great characterization, and lasting appeal. This new show is pretty much using characters that originally were advertising characters, and named for a shoe line. If they wind up using their shoe based powers to stop evil repeatedly, and are poorly written, I can see this backfiring.