Advocacy Groups Not Exactly Thrilled About Using ‘Madagascar 3’ Characters To Sell Claritin

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.”

Public health group files FTC complaint about Merck’s ‘Madagascar 3’ marketing []


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  1. redskull says:

    I suppose this is indeed relevant, now that every other problem in our society has been fixed.

  2. Boiled for your sins says:

    I think making it taste good and chewable is more dangerous than having a few stickers tucked into the package.

  3. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    “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.”

    Yes, because parents just love 5 free stickers.

  4. ferozadh says:

    I’m more worried by the fact that there’s enough cases of allergies in children that we need to market child specific brands of Claritin.

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      I just read an article about that the other day. The author wrote about the amounts of antibacterial chemicals used now, and how parents freak out about every molecule of dirt, as a possible reason for more allergies. In years past, many of us got really dirty, drank from hoses, dared each other to eat dirt, and our homes were not hepa filtered and sanitized.

      I have no idea if the theory is correct or not, but it was interesting to read.

      • HogwartsProfessor says:

        Considering that the incidence of superbugs has been increasing following years of antibacterial product use and over-prescribing of antibiotics, I would think it plausible. Our immune systems are designed to create defenses against threats, but first you have to be exposed to them.

      • GoldVRod says:

        I read that as “drank from horses”.

        Yeah, that’s quite an upbringing!

      • sherrasama says:

        I’m sure there’s some truth to that, but I was a VERY dirty child who played in the dirt a lot and whose parents never bothered with antibacterial anything, was around pets at an early age etc. Still ended with massive allergies. I have to take (the now thankfully generic version of) Claritin every day or I break out into massive skin hives.

  5. Blueskylaw says:

    This is why we need to teach our children how corporations attempt to manipulate them and others through advertising bullspin. Cartoon characters, stickers, and toys should play no part in any purchasing decision (unless of course you need to complete your 50 Happy Meal Characters collection, then go ahead and keep buying Happy Meals ((what makes a meal happy anyways?))

  6. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Sounds cut and dry – FCC bans targeted marketing to children, and company targeted children in marketing.

  7. eezy-peezy says:

    I have always been upset over MetLife using Peanuts characters in their ads. The appeal of the strip is that the characters are child-like and innocent. I just can’t picture them buying life insurance.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      But at least it’s not a product that kids use or ask to use – or a product they can physically see and whine about getting at the store.

      And at this point, Peanuts appeals more to adults for nostalgia than kids; but I’ll agree anything animated appeals to kids in some way.

  8. caradrake says:

    Isn’t Flinstone’s vitamins an “OTC supplement”? Vitamins are also available in Cars, Spiderman/superheros, Princesses…

  9. nybiker says:

    This is why I don’t buy products that have movie tie-ins, regardless of who the target audience is. I don’t like being thought of as buying something just because a product is part of the product placement package of a movie. Of course, as I have mentioned in other posts, I am also not in favor of naming rights either.

  10. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    Or you could take the frugal approach and buy generic loratadine at Sam’s or Costco in a bulk qty for quite a bit less than the name brand with cartoon characters.

    • caradrake says:

      I love Costco’s generic meds. A one year supply of generic Zyrtec or Claritin, each for around $12-$15.

  11. Jane_Gage says:

    They should only use them for things kids don’t want but should, like spinach chews.

  12. tomok97 says:

    What about Band-Aids? I put some Shrek Band-Aids and now my kids are all cutters.

  13. Martha Gail says:

    It’s not like it’s candy or anything. Parents purchase medicine and if a kid sees it and asks for it the parent can say, “No, that’s medicine and you’re not sick.” Problem solved.