No Reply From Folkemer

August 2, 2008

Dr. Paul Folkemer calls himself the "child advocate at Channel One News."


From Jim Metrock:

It’s August 2 and Channel One is still advertising a prescription drug on its web site. (It appears the BenzaClin ads are gone, but the Differin ads are still there.) Obligation joined with the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood to bring attention to these reckless ads.

I have decided to post my emails to Dr. Paul Folkemer of Channel One News. Dr. Folkemer used to be an educator before he became involved with teen and tween marketing. He presently is the Chairman of the Board at MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving). From early on, Channel One wanted to be close to MADD so that MADD’s good reputation would help cover Channel One’s questionable reputation. Channel One uses MADD as a public relations tool. With Channel One, everything is about image.


Subject: Prescription drug ads running on
Date: July 20, 2008 6:52:17 PM CDT

Dear Dr. Folkemer:

Your company has always said you would refrain from advertising prescription drugs to students.

"2) Products and/or Services that Will Not Be Considered for COCC Programming
I. Prescription drugs"
from your Terms and Conditions of Network Participation.

Today on your site you are very prominently advertising not one, but two different prescription acne medicines (BenzaClin clindamycin1%- benzoyl peroxide 5% gel and Differin adapalene 0.3% gel).

This wasn’t a mistake on your part since it appears these ads have been running for weeks, maybe more.

I wanted to give Channel One an opportunity to immediately remove these and any other prescription drug advertising before I wrote about it and forwarded it on to the appropriate organizations.

These drug ads are being seen by young people under the age of 12. Maybe Andrew Knopf, your sales manager from the WWE, doesn’t know better, but you do.

Is the "new" Channel One under Alloy making a distinction between ads on the classroom show and ads on the web site? Are these prescription ads running because your company believes the ad restrictions in your Terms and Conditions now only apply to the TV show? I, and more importantly, the public need to know that if that is the case.

You know you will ultimately be made to take down these dangerous ads so why not remove them immediately?

Your list of prohibited products or services that cannot be advertised is laughable to begin with. (No firearm ads! no gambling ads! no X-rated movie ads!) Mr. Chairman of MADD, why do you have to list "beer, wine, and distilled spirits" as things Channel One PROMISES it won’t consider advertising to students? Can’t that go unsaid? Well, maybe not if now you have given the green light to prescription drug ads.

If you can clarify Channel One’s position on advertising prescription drugs, I would appreciate hearing back from you sometime tomorrow.

Jim Metrock

Above: Channel One’s ad for BenzaClin


Above: The teaser ad for Differin. Both ads on your site take young people immediately to the drug company’s web site. There is no warning that a young person is about to leave Channel One’s site.


Dr. Folkemer did not respond to the first email. That’s standard practice for him and other Alloy/Channel One executives. I thought that even if he didn’t respond that he would demand that his bosses remove the ads. When they remained, I sent him this email. Plan B involved filing a complaint with CARU an ad industry organization that has guidelines for what should be advertised to young people under 12.

Folkemer in his previous stint at Channel One 1998-2002 approved ads for movies that normalized alcohol and drug use among teens and preteens. ( a, b, c, d, e ) Only in America can he now be Chairman of MADD.

Subject: Disappointed in you.
Date: July 21, 2008 3:05:58 PM CDT

Dr. Folkemer

I’m disappointed in you. More than usual.
You still have the prescription drug ads up today.
I thought I could shame you into doing the right thing. That was Plan A.
I’ll go to Plan B. I will force you and your fellow employees to take these ads down.

Separately, since you are the Chairman of MADD, you might use whatever influence you have with Diamond and Johnson to remove the glorification of underage drinking from their Alloy books and Alloy TV shows.
If you haven’t spoken up, you should. You have seen Gossip Girl and you probably have read some of the books Alloy markets to teens and children. It makes you sick doesn’t it? It does me. These TV shows and books influence kids. When a media company like yours features so many underage characters who drink heavily with little or no consequence it hurts kids. It can kill young people. Alloy makes underage drinking fashionable. Part of your salary each month comes from these underage-drinking books and TV shows. As long as you are working there you should try with all your might to make Alloy a more responsible company.

Jim Metrock