Many of the largest food and beverage producers in the world are self-regulating in light of new studies pointing to the growing number of children with diabetes and obesity, this according to an article from the LA Times. Congress recently issued a directive to both the large food and beverage companies as well as the Federal Trade Commission to establish guidelines for how, when, and how often these companies can target children in their advertisements.
In response, the industry, including leaders like Kellogg and Kraft, have issued a number of proposed self-regulating changes. They plan on using the nutritional information, including calories and sugar, to determine the appropriateness of targeting advertisements to a child. It will also give the companies time to change their ingredients should a top-selling food or beverage also be on the “naughty” list of items with the deadline set for the end of 2013. The companies pledge to make products healthier otherwise,
they will not continue to target children with those advertisements.
The move is seen as a compromise between proposed regulations by the FTC in April – regulations that industry officials felt would make it illegal to advertise to anyone under the age of 18. The hope is that by the large companies offering plans to regulate themselves, they can keep government out of advertising rules. Joe Liebowitz, FTC chairman, said in a statement, “The industry’s uniform standards are a significant advance and are exactly the type of initiative the Commission had in mind when we started pushing for self-regulation more than five years ago.”
While the FTC is pleased with the compromise, many consumer watchdog groups and children advocacy representatives still feel like the big brands aren’t doing enough, many brand representatives feel that if consumers don’t feel like their product should be fed to a child, that the answer is to simply turn off the television, choose not to eat the product, or tell the child no. “If people don’t enjoy their good, they don’t eat it and they make other choices.” Juli Mandel Sloves, a spokeswoman for the Campbell, told the New York Times.
At this time the regulations don’t appear to point to targeted social media ads or mobile ads that could also be tailored to entice children to a product.