Are fast-food chains backsliding in ads to kids?
A new study says the big operators are again using toy giveaways and movie tie-ins to appeal to youngsters.
You might think kids are more media-savvy these days, given their constant exposure to advertising. And indeed, the industry has made efforts to avoid exploiting those immature consumers. In the mid-1970s, U.S. advertisers set up the Children's Advertising Review Unit (CARU) as a self-regulating program to promote responsible advertising to children.
In 2006, a group of America's leading food and beverage companies joined with the Better Business Bureau in something called the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), which is supposed to shift advertising primarily directed to children toward better food choices and healthier lifestyles. Each company involved in the Initiative also agreed to limit the use of celebrity and movie tie-ins in child-directed ads.
But a new study finds several fast-food companies that are part of the CFBAI aren't living up to their pledges and are using toy premiums and movie tie-ins to attract kids.
"When we first saw the ads, we were shocked,” James Sargent, a professor of pediatrics at Dartmouth College's Geisel School of Medicine and one of the six researchers who conducted the study, told Adweek. "It's hard to tell with the kids ads what they are marketing; food was an afterthought."
The study, published in the scientific journal Plos One, looked at all national TV ads by the top 25 "quick service restaurants" over a one-year period, from 2009 to 2010. It also compared adult-targeted vs. kid-targeted advertising and found that when it came to the ads geared for children, food was secondary.
Researchers say 70% of the fast-food ads meant for kids were produced by McDonald's (MCD), and 29% came from Burger King (BKW). Of those ads, 79% were aired on just four channels: Cartoon Network, owned by Time Warner (TWX); Nickelodeon & Nicktoons, both owned by Viacom (VIA); and Disney's (DIS) XD.
Some interesting stats:
Food packaging was shown in 88% of the children's ads compared to 23% of ads produced for adults.
Street views of the fast-food restaurants were show in 41% of kid ads versus 12% of adult ads.
Toy premiums or giveaways were shown in 69% of kids ads versus 1% of adult ads.
Movie tie-ins were present in 55% of kid ads versus 14% of adult advertisements.
Not everyone agrees with the study's findings. CARU director Wayne Keeley told Adweek McDonald's and Burger King have been model participants in the program -- and have respected CARU's recommendations to discontinue challenged ads.
But the study's researchers say, given national concerns about obesity and fast-food consumption, food industry advertising needs more oversight. And while self-regulation efforts can succeed, they say, they also suggest yearly evaluations by a governmental agency like the Federal Trade Commission.
First rule of parenting - learn to say "No" and reinforce it with your actions.
"what differance does it make now?" - hillary clinton.
read: who cares what mcdonalds is advertising to sell their product. as a consumer, you dont have to buy it for your kids. learn to say no once in a while. quit blaming mcdonalds for your kids obesity.
be a better parent.
now watch the thumbs downs roll in from parents who want to refuse responsibility for their kids eating habits.
When I was a kid, I begged Mom to take me to McDonalds every day for a Happy Meal.
She would say NO.
Is parenting a lost art?
I did get to go there on my birthday :-)
If you child asked, begged and cried to be taken out to a bar for an alcoholic drink, would just give in? If they asked for prescription drugs that they didn't need, would you say yes? If the begged to go out and play on a busy highway, would you say yes? I REST MY CASE!
I raised five kids and in my house, fast food was a treat! If we were out shopping for something special or having a special outing, then we would stop at McDonald's as a special treat. It was never and still is not a part of their regular diet. They are raising my grandchildren the same way. They target kids with tons of commercials for toys at Christmas, they want everyone they see, but they don't get them all. Is there a difference? It is the parents choice, not the child's so it does not matter what commercial are throw at them!
i dont think a day has gone by in the past week where msn authors havent targeted mcdonalds specifically.
its downright pathetic and obviously an agenda is being served by these so called writers
Saying "No" to your kid, when they want that fast food, won't kill them.
In all probability, you'll actually prolong their life by avoiding that trash. So just say "No".
"But the study's researchers say, given national concerns about obesity and fast-food consumption, food industry advertising needs more oversight."
What? By whom? Is someone proposing another federal government entity to count individual caloric intake and to assess fines (taxes) when some arbitrary amount is exceeded?
come on people-- its called freedom or choice . and its your choice to go to mcds. only thing their fault is good food.. don't let your BRATS run your lives .leave mcds alone..
I don't think the issue with obesity has much to do with the food being eaten as it does with the exercise issue. Kids today do not exercise nearly enough, it's sit in front of the TV or play with a tablet or video games...My daughter is 8 and very healthy and a normal weight, I do not restrict her
diet at all, she is not much of a sweet eater and she prefers water over soda and she likes the occasional happy meal (the nasty apples go to the rabbit). Fortunately she is very active, always
dancing, swimming ect. but also does her share of video games and TV. I think a lot of the problem
is working parents and minimal time to cook a decent meal, there is a fast food joint every 1/2 block and sometimes it's a lot easier to grab a burger at 8:00 then go home and cook. Also I think there is
a safety factor involved, with all the weirdo's out there now. When I was a kid my friends and I were
running around the neighborhood, riding bikes, playing hide n seek, etc. now most of us would not
dare let our kids out unattended, my daughter goes no further then the front yard. Many things have
changed dramatically over the years. I do not believe advertising has anything to do with it, my daughter has never wanted to go to McDonalds just to get the toy in a happy meal.
It is sickening for the baiting that these web pages do to get a poll of some kind on every asinine question related to innumerous subject matter. The poll questions are framed in the same scenario as this question: "Are you still beating your wife?"
Here is my response. Yes, corporations use tie-ins with toys and food and any other thing they can to get people to buy their food, soap, toothpaste, clothes, I-pad, phone, computer, gps system, or any other product you can think of. There someone said the redundant thing!
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