While searching Google news today, I came across an interesting report from Advertising Standards Canada (ASC). The report gave details of an initiative by several Canadian food and beverage companies to change the way they market to children under age 12.
The Canadian Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, which was first announced in April, saw 16 companies voluntarily commit to promoting “healthier dietary choices and healthy active living” to children under 12. Let’s (briefly) review some of the commitments:
* Eight companies, including General Mills, Kellogg, Kraft and McDonald’s, will direct all children’s ads to “healthier dietary choices” as per standards set by scientific or government recommendations.
*Eight companies, including Cadbury, Coca-Cola, and Hershey will refrain from advertising to kids under 12.
*All participating companies will refrain from paying for or seeking to place food and drink products in children’s programming.
*All participating companies will refrain from advertising in elementary schools.
According to the report, 11 companies have already started their commitments, and every company involved will have started by the end of this year. The commitments are meant to span TV, print, radio and even Internet.
This comes as good news in the face of countless media stories highlighting the problem of child obesity both in the U.S. and here in Canada. The fact that unhealthy food choices are still available to children remains a problem. But at least they won’t be quite as bombarded by ads for such products while engaging in media.
I think, perhaps, the most effective commitment might be that of stopping advertising in schools. School could be the place where children are most affected by adverse advertising, being that they lack the supervision of their parents but likely have some of their money to spend while there.
I suppose it will take some time for the success of this initiative to surface. As of now, though, it seems like a step in the right direction.