Shrek Flip-flops in Obesity Fight

Animated Ogre Who Shilled for Sugary Cereal Will Serve as Spokesman for Healthy Living

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- Shrek is switching sides in the children's obesity fight.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Ad Council are featuring Shrek in an obesity-prevention campaign.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Ad Council are featuring Shrek in an obesity-prevention campaign.

The DreamWorks Animation's green ogre -- whose promotional efforts for a sugary General Mills cereal named in his honor were pummeled by a U.S. senator ("We got rid of Joe Camel. We've got to get rid of Shrek," Iowa Democrat Tom Harkin once said) -- is becoming a spokesman for good health.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Ad Council are hosting a press conference Feb. 1 to announce that Shrek will be a featured addition to their Small Step obesity-prevention campaign, which encourages children and families to lead healthy lifestyles. PSAs from GSD&M, Austin, Texas, are expected to feature Shrek and his sidekicks, including the donkey voiced by Eddie Murphy in the films. (Shrek is voiced by comedian Mike Myers.)

Other Shrek promotions
The switch comes as McDonald's and Mars ready promotions tied to the May release of "Shrek 3." Mars will offer a Snickers candy bar featuring green "Shrek filling" and "ogre-sized" peanut-butter M&M's. McDonald's in July 2005 announced a two-year marketing and promotional relationship with DreamWorks that begins with the new movie. McDonald's has said it will use Shrek to promote more-healthful offerings such as Apple Dippers.

Growing controversy over the marketing of unhealthful food products to children prompted the Walt Disney Co. in October to announce it would rein in its licensing efforts, including those of DreamWorks rival Pixar.

Disney unveiled new licensing guidelines that limit most of its characters to foods low in total fat, saturated fat and sugar. Disney also moved to make fast food in its parks more healthful.

Small Step campaign
The Ad Council's Small Step public-service campaign began in 2003 and focuses on fitness, nutrition and disease prevention. The first ads from Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann Erickson were aimed at adults; a second "Can your foods do that?" campaign aimed at children launched late in 2005.

Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, DreamWorks Chairman Roger Enrico and Ad Council President-CEO Peggy Conlon will unveil the Shrek ads in Washington, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

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Stephanie Thompson contributed to this report.
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