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Food advertising to kids required wider definition to protect kids

Posted on Oct 19, 2015 by Maggie LaBarbera

This year the Robert Woods foundation through the Healthy Eating Research initiative shared their recommendations for responsible food marketing to children.

The recommendations were developed by a panel of experts with a goal of providing a complete and thorough set of specific definitions that will serve as guidelines to food and beverage manufacturers, retailers, restaurant companies, media and entertainment companies, industry associations, government and policy makers.

The panel had to first determine how they would decide if an advertisement was actually directed to children.  They made their criteria based on several factors:

  • what type of venue was the marketing being placed
  • what was the content or subject matter
  • how was it formatted
  • what techniques did they use to communicate
  • and other characteristics of the marketing message

If the advertisement was determined to be directed to children, meaning children under the age of 12, then it should meet the nutritional guidelines set by the USDA.

But the more challenging part of the equation was how do you actually determine if the food marketing was intended for children?  Here is what this panel used as their guidelines:

  • children made up at least 25% of the audience viewing the advertisement/venue advertisement was placed within
  • Based on the company's media and marketing plan, the children was the intended audience
  • An assessment of the marketing strategies used, indicated that the target demographics for the marketing campaign was in fact children

But what they found was when they used this criteria to determine if children were being advertised to, the biggest kids' networks did not qualify as advertising to kids!  So they had to actually broaden their definition to include:

children up to the age of 14.  This seemed to be then provide coverage for the majority of food and beverage ads viewed by children.1

Monday’s Nourishing Thought:  

Are you aware of who is actually marketing to your children?





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