Junk Food Ads to Be Bumped From Prime-Time TV
The Korean Times
May 27, 2008
Korea has declared
war against children's obesity with the first prong of
its attack focused on banning television commercials for
junk food from time slots favored by children.
Even before the implementation, however, opposition
voices are being raised by advertisement agencies
fearing a dent in their bottom line. Related interest
groups are marking their time to join the fray, adding
uncertainty to the plan to introduce a ``junk food
curfew'' on air in March next year.
A new law protecting children's health ― set to be
effective March 22 ― will ban food firms from promoting
free toys and add-ins on television, radio and online
advertisements. This means, don't expect to see what the
latest happy meal toy is on McDonald's adverts.
The rule is just one of many related, forthcoming
clampdowns by the Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA),
which claims it will eventually block virtually all TV
commercials promoting ``unhealthy'' food and drinks
during prime time, starting January 2010.
Although this is already common practice in advanced
countries, domestic companies are expressing concerns
that they will suffer a significant hit on sales, and
ultimately, brand loyalty.
Research shows that lifelong loyalty to a particular
brand starts at as early an age as two, so getting such
a golden opportunity snatched away is provoking
Chung Sung-hoon, spokesman of Lotteria, the nation's No.
1 fast food chain, expressed discontent over the KFDA's
decision, claiming that the restriction is
He said Lotteria currently airs about seven to eight TV
ads per day, but the ban will push them to divert their
promotion efforts to other outlets.
The spokesman for Haitai Confectionary, the country's
second-largest snack maker, said, ``Detailed criteria
making up the standards for `unhealthy' goods haven't
been released, but the decision doesn't come as good
news for us.''
The KFDA said ``high-caloric, low-nutrition'' food and
drinks will be banned from airing between 7 a.m. to 9
a.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. It added that a further
definition of restricted goods will be announced in
January 2009. And prior to a full ban in 2010, it said
hearings will be held to collect public opinions.
``South Korea is belatedly moving to join the league of
other advanced countries in protecting children's
health,'' said Lee Ji-young of the children's food
safety division at KFDA, explaining that the U.K., the
U.S., France and Australia are among countries that have
already cracked down on junk food ads.
Consumer groups also claim that the barring should have
Lim Eun-kyung of Seoul YMCA's consumer group says one
out of five children in South Korea is overweight,
stressing that a broader and stricter measure to protect
children from junk food exposure is necessary.
She added, ``It's unfortunate to see domestic companies
only going after their own good, while putting youth
health at stake.''
A recent study done at Liverpool University shows that
children who are bombarded with junk food ads will
nearly double their intake of unhealthy snacks.
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