Self Regulation

Forgot to mention this little tidbit.

Food Industry Tweaks Ad Guidelines :
Susan Linn, co-founder of the nonprofit Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, blasted the efforts as “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.”

She maintained that the guidelines remain too vague and permissive, and will generate only cosmetic changes in the way marketers go about their business....

Gary Ruskin, executive director of consumer advocacy group Commercial Alert, dismissed the effort out of hand.

“Junk food marketers are dreaming if they think they can halt tough new laws against marketing to children,” said Ruskin, who called on the next Congress to swiftly pass the Parents' Bill of Rights, which, among other provisions, would revoke the federal tax deduction for advertising to children under 12.

There's a freaking tax deduction for advertising to children? WTF!

[original post]

Industry self regulation, now there's a concept that always seems to work well. For the industry, that is.

Chicago Tribune: Critics sour on rules for kids' food adsTen of the nation's largest food and drink companies, including McDonald's and Kraft, said Tuesday that at least half of their advertising targeting kids will promote healthy foods or physical activity. ... The new guidelines, which got a cool reception from watchdog groups, represent a pre-emptive move by the food industry to regulate itself in the face of threats of congressional action and other regulation. This comes as the number of overweight children has quadrupled in the United States since 1960. Recent studies have categorized 16 percent of U.S. children as obese.

The agreement “is an outstanding start and we hope to do more,” said Steven Cole, president and chief executive of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, which oversees the Children's Advertising Review Unit, the industry-affiliated body that monitors children's advertising.
...Critics, however, said Tuesday's update of the 30-year-old rules over children's advertising are modest and so qualified that they will require companies to make few, if any, changes to their current marketing practices.

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,” said Susan Linn, a Harvard University professor and co-founder of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.

and doesn't this statement just prove the argument:

...The companies said they intended to keep making and promoting the same sugary cereals, french fries and chocolate bars.

Bill Lemar, marketing director for Oak Brook-based McDonald's, said an initial review indicated the company would not have to make changes in its marketing efforts, but “the guidelines are ones we are very happy to participate in.”

What's the phrase: no window-pane, no grain alcohol? err, no planes, no access to Pontchartrain? No praying, no greying? Well, something like that. I might need another espresso. Or not.


There's always the (feeble) hope that the new Congress might enact new guidelines:

Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest said the only changes from the status quo in these guidelines occurs on the fringes.

“If a healthy lifestyle message means that Ronald McDonald is pedaling a bike while peddling junk food, that message still does more harm than good,” he said, saying he hopes the new Democratic-led Congress will take a “fresh look” at the food industry's practices.

That could be in the cards.

While U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), incoming chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, said Tuesday's agreement was a step in the right direction. Earlier this year, he introduced legislation that would change voluntary standards into federal requirements.

The WSJ article focuses more on the industry side (natch):

Food Companies Vow To Tighten Limits on Kids' Ads -

Ten major food and beverage companies pledged to tighten voluntary restrictions on advertising to children under 12 years old, but the move did little to quiet critics who contend that marketing junk food to youngsters has contributed to the rise in childhood obesity.

McDonald's, PepsiCo, Kraft Foods and other marketers vowed to devote at least half of their television, radio, print and Internet advertising directed at children to promoting more-healthful products or encouraging healthy lifestyles. They said they would show only healthful products or health messages in interactive games, and pledged to refrain from advertising in elementary schools or engaging in product placement, among other measures.

The other companies involved in the effort are Coca-Cola, Cadbury Schweppes, Campbell Soup, General Mills, Hershey, Kellogg and Unilever. The 10 companies together account for more than two-thirds of all food and beverage television advertising expenditure aimed at children, according to the Council of Better Business Bureaus Inc., an umbrella organization for the Better Business Bureau system, which is overseeing and monitoring the new initiative.

and yet another sign the regulation isn't going to change anyone's plan much, the FTC chair jes loves it!

Federal Trade Commission Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras said the new initiative “shows real promise, and I hope will encourage more competition in developing and marketing healthier products that are attractive to kids and their parents.”

Oh boy!

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the Tribune breaks down the proposed changes:

New rules, little change

The food industry's self-imposed guidelines and expected impact:

GUIDELINE 1: Devote at least half of advertising directed to children on television, radio, in print and on the Internet to promote healthier dietary choices and messages that encourage good nutrition or healthy lifestyles.

IN PRACTICE: The new rules won't mean that some products high in sugar will get less airtime on after-school TV shows. One Kellogg Co. senior vice president said some of the company's sugary cereals have nutrients kids need and qualify as healthy.

GUIDELINE 2: Limit products shown in games to healthier dietary choices, or incorporate healthy lifestyle messages into the games.

IN PRACTICE: Companies will continue to market to kids through online “advergames,” video games that involve a product and prompt kids to interact with it far beyond a 30-second TV spot, but the plots will convey a healthful message.

GUIDELINE 3: Do not advertise in elementary schools.

IN PRACTICE: That doesn't mean companies will be out of schools altogether. For example, McDonald's Corp. said Tuesday it plans to continue offering its Passport to Play curriculum to gym teachers, saying it is educational, not a marketing gimmick.

GUIDELINE 4: Do not engage in food and beverage product placement in editorial and entertainment content.

IN PRACTICE: Most companies involved already have internal policies on how they sell to kids that would limit this.

GUIDELINE 5: Reduce the use of third-party licensed characters that does not meet the initiative's product or messaging criteria.

IN PRACTICE: “The Little Mermaid” and “Cars” characters probably won't be hired to hawk foods to children, but Ronald McDonald, Tony the Tiger and Snap, Crackle and Pop will still star in ads.

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This page contains a single entry by Seth A. published on November 15, 2006 8:33 AM.

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