Advertisers Unveiling 'Tougher' Kids Ad Guidelines


The ad industry is ready to show Washington its revised, tougher, children's advertising guidelines.

At a press conference scheduled for Tuesday, the Council of Better Business Bureau's (BBB)National Advertising Review Unit will announce what it says are stronger guidelines to advertisers about how they should market their products to children.

Facing an increasingly obese population of youngsters, the industry has been under pressure from Washington and academe to modify its advertising of snack foods to children.

Also at the Tuesday teleconference announcing new guidelines for CARU, which is the BBB's Children's Advertising Review Unit, the food and beverage industries also plan to launch an initiative to emphasize "healthy" choices in food ads.

The Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Health and Human Services last May issued recommendations for marketing food to kids and the bottom line was: Self regulation.

That conclusion stemmed from a conference in summer 2005 in which the government agencies heard from industry and academics on the issue of childhood obesity and the role of food marketing.

In that report, the ad industry was encouraged to expand the powers of the Children's Advertising Review Unit (CARU), including 1) allowing parents to file complaints with CARU (CARU has pointed out that it has always welcomed such complaints and has even made it easier through an online complaint form), and 2) expanding the CARU advisory board to include obesity and health experts; 3) modifying the CARU guidelines to address forms of marketing foods to children other than traditional advertising, that would likely include food product placement, if any, in kids shows, and online.

The ad industry agreed to take the advice under consideration. A task force has been working on expanding the guidelines.

In late September, Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and FCC Chairman Kevin Martin unveiled a new joint task force on the media and childhood obesity, saying the goal was to work with industry to help combat obesity, joining hands rather than pointing fingers.