FTC Urges Media to Do More on Food Marketing
Comes in follow-up review of food marketing to kids and adolescents
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 12/21/2012 1:28:19 PM
"With a few exceptions, media companies have not limited licensing of children's characters and placement of ads during children's programming to more nutritious foods," the FTC said.
The FTC report found that food marketers had cut their overall spending on marketing to youth by 19.5%, primarily cutting spending on TV ads. But it also found a 50% increase in spending on online, mobile and viral marketing.
"[F]ood company participation in self-regulation has increased," the report found, "but some companies with significant marketing to children still have not joined the effort. The entertainment industry lags farther behind."
The study was a follow-up to a 2008 report. That report made recommendations to media and entertainment companies primarily on character licensing and cross-promotions with food companies and on placement of food ads in kids' media.
While the FTC in this latest report praised some companies for their initiatives in that regard, but said that some major media companies don't apply any nutrition standards for foods promoted by popular characters.
On the FTC's nice list was Disney, which in 2012 committed to apply nutrition standards on ads in child-directed shows. Ion also was praised for its 2008 commitment to limit food ads to more nutritious offerings.
The commission also signaled it was not pleased that media companies had not launched an industry-wide effort to combat childhood obesity.
Commenting on the report, the Center for Digital Democracy focused on the rise in online marketing and what it said were integrated, multiscreen campaigns that encourage kids to "pester" their parents to buy their products.
"The nation's youth obesity epidemic illustrates that more is needed than just a report," said the group. "The FTC should convene stakeholders to develop a set of Fair Digital Marketing Practices for Children and Teens."
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