Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 109, Issue 3, pp 436–438 | Cite as

Beauty and the Banana: it is a commercial promotion, not a public health campaign

  • Charlene Elliott


This commentary examines the recent Disney-Dole “There’s Beauty in Healthy Living” initiative and the implications of using character licensing to market produce to children. While the idea of promoting healthy foods to children is appealing, it is critical to consider the ethics of marketing to children—and whether, in fact, these commercial promotions deliver when it comes to improving public health.


Child Marketing Food Advertising as topic Public health Commodification 


Notre commentaire porte sur une initiative conjointe récente de Disney et de Dole, « There’s Beauty in Healthy Living », et sur les conséquences de l’utilisation de licences de personnages pour encourager les enfants à manger des fruits et légumes. L’idée de promouvoir les aliments sains auprès des enfants est attrayante, mais il est essentiel de songer à l’éthique de l’offre commerciale destinée aux enfants—et de vérifier si de telles publicités ont vraiment des résultats sur la santé publique.


Enfant Marketing Aliments Publicité comme sujet Santé publique Marchandisation 



The author would like to acknowledge the Canada Research Chairs Program, as well as Josh Golin, Executive Director, and David Monahan, Campaign Manager of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, for feedback on earlier versions of this commentary.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that there is no conflict of interest.


  1. Azagba, S., & Mesbah, S. F. (2011). Disparities in the frequency of fruit and vegetable consumption by socio-demographic and lifestyle characteristics in Canada. Nutrition Journal, 10, 118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baldassarre, F., & Campo, R. (2015). A character a day keeps the fruit on display: the influence of cartoon characters on preschoolers’ preference for healthy food. International Journal of Markets and Business Systems, 1, 260–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Crawford, E. (2015). Fruits and veggies take on packaged food with FNV ad campaign endorsed by the First Lady and celebrities. Food Navigator. March 2. Available at: (Accessed March 2, 2015).
  4. Dole and The Walt Disney Company (2017). Help parents encourage healthier eating through the magic of Disney characters and storytelling. BusinessWire. March 14. Available at: (Accessed March 14, 2017).
  5. de Droog, S. M., Valkenburg, P. M., & Buijzen, M. (2011). Using brand characters to promote young children’s liking of and purchase requests for fruit. Journal of Health Communication, 16, 79–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Elliott C and Carruthers Den Hoed R. (2016). Do apples need an Elmo sticker?: children’s classification of unprocessed edibles. Critical Public Health, 27. Doi: 10.1080/09581596.2016.1262942.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Hanks, A. S., Just, D. R., & Brumberg, A. (2016). Marketing vegetables in elementary school cafeterias to increase uptake. Pediatrics, 138, e20151720.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Health Canada. (2017). Health Canada’s Healthy Eating Strategy; Available at: (Accessed July 19, 2017).
  9. Kraak VI, Story M. (2016). The use of brand mascots and media characters: opportunities for responsible food marketing to children. Healthy Eating Research; Durham, NC Available at (Accessed February 14, 2017).
  10. Krueger, H., Koot, J., & Andres, E. (2017). The economic benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption in Canada. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 108(2), 152–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Wansink, B., Just, D., & Payne, C. (2012). Can branding improve school lunches? Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 166, 967–968.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Canada Research Chair, Food Marketing, Policy and Children’s Health and Professor of CommunicationUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

Personalised recommendations