Excerpt from voices.washingtonpost.com/posttech

Excerpt from voices.washingtonpost.com/posttech

Cecilia Kang
Thursday, September 23, 2010

FCC probes cartoon featuring Skechers

The Federal Communications Commission launched a review Wednesday into whether a television cartoon featuring characters that also advertise Skechers shoes violates rules limiting commercials to children.

"Zevo-3," a program-length series to begin airing Oct. 11 on Nicktoons, features three superheroes from comics and television ads used by Skechers. Characters Kewl Breeze, Z-Strap and Elastika are also the names for shoe lines sold by Skechers and amount to program-length advertisements for the company, according to a complaint filed by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.

The FCC said it would take public comments on the complaint to determine whether the series violates the Children's Television Act and agency rules that limit advertising in children's programming. The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood filed a petition last month to the agency, saying the program would be the first children's show featuring characters only known previously as marketing agents.

"It's clear that Skechers and Nicktoons are flouting the policies established by Congress to protect children from excessive commercialism," said CCFC's director, Susan Linn. " 'Zevo-3' is a 22-minute commercial masquerading as a kids' TV show."

Skechers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

CCFC said that while "Zevo-3's" creators have promised the show won't have product placements, it is concerned about the association of the comics with the show. In one comic, children defeat an evil character, Dr. Stankfoot, after hero Kewl Breeze gives them Skechers Airators, which are said to combat foot odor.

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