By Jim Edwards/Brandweek
April 19, 2007
NEW YORK The Federal Trade Commission said it would
subpoena 44 food, beverage and quick-serve restaurant
marketers for detailed information on how they market
to children. The companies were not named.
The information demands will be detailed and
all-encompassing, according to a Federal Register
notice, turning marketing departments at food
companies into an open book for the feds.
The FTC will seek information on:
--Any traditional media targeting kids.
--All product placement, viral and word-of-mouth
--Marketing expenditures that are directed to
individuals of a specific race, ethnicity or gender.
--Any information on health claims such as "better for
And the FTC is particularly interested in these
categories: breakfast cereals; snack foods; candy;
dairy products, including milk and yogurt; baked
goods; carbonated beverages; fruit juice and
non-carbonated beverages; prepared foods and meals;
frozen and chilled desserts; and quick-service
The FTC estimates it will take companies between 100
and 210 hours to fulfill its requests for data.
The information will be used to write a report to
Congress that, obviously, will be closely read. The
report will likely provide one of the most complete
pictures of how food is marketed to children ever
compiled—and will be examined by plaintiffs and their
lawyers who hope to bring obesity suits against
The notice said the FTC would attempt to treat the
data it receives in confidence except where that data
might be publicly available. In its report, the FTC
said, the information gathered would be presented in
"aggregate," rather than on specific companies.
"The commission anticipates providing information on
an anonymous or aggregated basis, in a manner
sufficient to protect individual companies&sbquo
confidential information, to provide a factual summary
of food industry marketing activities and expenditures
targeted to children and adolescents," the notice