Professor Angela Campbell on Top 10 List

July 13, 2012 —

Professor Angela Campbell Professor Angela Campbell

Professor Angela Campbell (LL.M.’83) was recently hailed as one of the top 10 lawyers working to improve our food system. On July 5, Campbell was recognized on the blog appetiteforprofit.com for her work to stop predatory marketing to children.

In 2011, Campbell and her clinic students at Georgetown Law’s Institute for Public Representation filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission on behalf of consumer groups protesting the use of such marketing strategies as an online horror video game to sell Doritos, for example. While such strategies may be effective — the snacks “vanished off the [store] shelves,” the complaint states — some believe they are an unfair means of targeting teens and children, who may not understand how they are being influenced to buy foods high in calories and fat.

“Our point was, this was really an attempt to manipulate teens, that they didn’t even necessarily know they were watching an ad,” says Campbell, who heads IPR’s First Amendment and Media Law division.

She’s been interested in the regulation of children’s media ever since she was a graduate fellow at IPR in 1981. Her interests later expanded to new media — she worked on the passage of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act — and unfair and deceptive advertising, penning a 2006 law review article on restricting the marketing of junk food to children. The article advocated legislation to limit the insertion of branded products into programming (think Junior Mints in the TV show “Seinfeld”) and prohibit the use of licensed characters to promote products to children (think SpongeBob Pop-Tarts).

While efforts to regulate in this area have been strongly resisted by the food industry, Campbell isn’t giving up the fight any time soon. “There were studies done with kids by the Sesame Workshop where they would ask them, would you rather eat broccoli or would you rather eat chocolate?” she recalls, noting that the studies would show children pictures of foods labeled with a Sesame Street character, an unknown character or nothing at all. “They could completely manipulate children’s preferences depending on if they put Elmo on the broccoli or Elmo on the chocolate.”

To view the list, which also names Adjunct Professor Jonathan Lovvorn of the Humane Society of the United States for his work on animal protection, click here.

-- Ann W. Parks