Policy

FTC Suspects Chuck E. Cheese of Marketing to Children

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there are no words.

The eagle-eyed regulators at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have a sneaking suspicion that a company offering disgusting pizza, animatronic human-sized mice, and a ball pit may be trying to appeal to children. Or rather, their marketing (the slogan was "Chuck E. Cheese: Where a Kid Can Be a Kid!" last time I checked) may inappropriately appeal to children.

A spokesman for the commission reassuringly told AdAge:

"We are not proposing any regulation."

But Chuck E. Cheese is one of 44 marketers who received an "order to file special report" three years ago. The chain, or rather its parent company CEC Entertainment, has now been subpoenaed so that the commission can check up on how that whole voluntary industry self-regulation thing is going. The FTC is just trying to be "supportive" of those self-regulation efforts, you see. Other companies caught in the net include Yum Brands, Wendy's, Sunkist, Red Bull, and Chiquita.

From layman's perspective it's not entirely clear how much self-regulation would satisfy the FTC in the case of the animatronic mouse, since the whole model of Chuck E. Cheese seems to be built on getting kids to whine and complain until their parents take them there—along with 10 of their closest friends—for an afternoon of plastic and cheese fueled mania.

Luckily, you can still bring your gun to Chuck E. Cheese. Or have a beer there. And play skee-ball! From that list, it sounds more like the chain should be accused of marketing to vulnerable Reason readers, actually.

Via Jim Morrell.