Firms 'Target' Network Sites
July 16, 2008
Companies were still not doing enough to curb their
advertising, despite 88% of customers thinking they
should be more responsible, consumer watchdog Which?
Some of the firms who had pledged to stop marketing
unhealthy food to under-12s continued to target
youngsters through the use of cartoon characters, film
tie-ins, celebrity endorsements and free offers, the
The report - Food Fables - the second sitting - said
companies like Weetabix and Kentucky Fried Chicken had
made "notable improvements".
However many major food companies were taking advantage
of lax regulations and continuing to use irresponsible
methods to influence children's food choices, it pointed
Kellogg's was among those singled out in the report for
encouraging people to text to receive a free ringtone as
part of a competition promoting high sugar cereals.
And Coca Cola too was caught bending the rules by
introducing a Fanta branded mobile phone game sent to
all entrants of a competition.
Companies also used popular websites such as Bebo,
Facebook, YouTube and Clubdtv to reach children, the
Cadbury websites included links to child-focused games
and competitions, while Mars and PepsiCo developed more
sophisticated "cool" brand sites that often linked
promotions with popular social networking sites.
"We're not against treats and we're not against
marketing, but we are against irresponsible company
practices and hollow company commitments," said Sue
Davies of Which?.
"You just have to walk around any supermarket to see the
wealth of cartoon characters persuading children to pick
the less healthy option.
"Tackling the obesity problem demands action in many
areas to make healthy choices easier.
"It's time all food companies started to fully play
their part and focused their vast array of creative and
persuasive marketing techniques on selling healthier
foods to children instead of less healthy ones."
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