The soft drink foxes are in the children’s health henhouse, and they are attacking the chicks.
Back in 2006, the top food and beverage companies agreed to some voluntary marketing guidelines after the Interagency Working Group (IWG) on Food Marketed to Children pointed out they were not playing fair with their advertising. Making high consumption of salt, sugar, and fats attractive to the 2-to-17 group was obviously working too well, and children’s health was at risk.
The food and beverage companies denied culpability, but they volunteered to encourage healthier choices through their own Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI).
Becoming Smarter about Alternative Marketing
Fast forward to 2011. A new report from the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity shows how difficult it is to retrain foxes, though it is easy to persuade them to be more clever about their feeding habits. Lead researcher Jennifer Harris, director of marketing initiatives at the Rudd Center, sums up the problem:
Beverage companies have pledged to improve child-directed advertising. But we are not seeing a true decrease in marketing exposure. Instead companies have shifted from traditional media to newer forms that engage youth through rewards for purchasing sugary drinks, community events, cause-related marketing, promotions, product placements, social media, and smartphones.
Clever of those foxes to switch to alternative forms of marketing. They gain more direct exposure at a lower per-unit cost.
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