November 14, 2006
Contact: Josh Golin (617-896-9369; josh<at>commercialfreechildhood.org)
For immediate release
New Voluntary Guidelines for Marketing to Children Are
Window Dressing at Best
Statement of CCFC co-founder Dr. Susan
The Children’s Advertising Review Unit’s revised guidelines
are the clearest indication yet that, when it comes to
marketing to children, self-regulation has failed. In the
midst of an epidemic of childhood obesity, the industry has
proposed a series of guidelines for junk food advertising that
are window dressing at best:
• The food industry will be allowed to continue to promote
unhealthy food to children by adding token messages about
“lifestyle.” A scene of kids snowboarding inserted in a
commercial for Big Macs is not going to reduce children’s junk
food consumption or childhood obesity.
• Cartoon characters will continue to be
used to promote unhealthy food. The guidelines only call for
this kind of marketing to be reduced—there are no specific
goals or restrictions.
• Advergaming will be allowed to
continue, including for unhealthy food like candy bars and
• Corporate sponsored educational
materials and other in-school programs that promote company
brands will still be allowed, even in elementary schools.
Ronald McDonald and other company spokescharacters will
continue to visit schools all over the country.
• CARU’s guidelines are not enforceable.
A recent study found that 82% of food industry websites for
children do not comply with CARU's guidelines. Specifically,
only 18% provide ad breaks or ad alerts for children on their
It is noteworthy that the food companies participating on
CARU’s process were not able to identify one substantial
change in their policies. That months of industry deliberation
resulted in virtually no change in advertising policy is just
another nail in the coffin of self-regulation. Once again
corporate America has shown that they cannot and should not be
charged with the responsibility of guarding the health and
well-being of children.
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free
Childhood is a national coalition of health care
professionals, educators, advocacy groups and concerned
parents who counter the harmful effects of marketing to
children through action, advocacy, education, research, and
collaboration among organizations and individuals who care