Industry Creates "Healthy" Coalition


In advance of a July 14-15 Federal Trade Commisison seminar on obesity and marketing to children, the Ad Council in New York is announcing today the creation of a new initiative, Coalition for Healthy Children.

That news comes on the heels of a Wall Street Journal report that food manufacturers will announce new guidelines on food advertising and the use of licensed characters.

The Ad Council coalition, comprising food and beverage advertisers, media, nonprofits and government agencies, will brainstorm on the best way to market healthy eating habits and will unveil in New York Wednesday new healthy-eating messages that were test-marketed on parents and kids.

Participants in the coalition include Coca-Cola, Pepsi, American Heart Association, American Dietetic Association Foundation, Kraft Foods, American Diabetes Association, Welch Foods, Campbell Soup Co. and Time magazine.

“Targeted communications programs have been proven to change attitudes, beliefs and behaviors regarding a multitude of social and health-related issues, including safety belt usage, drug prevention and environmental issues,” says Peggy Conlon, Ad Council president/CEO. “By providing a range of organizations with research-based, consistent messages, I believe this effort will help turn the tide on obesity rates in this country and successfully promote healthier lifestyles among our youth.”

The U.S. surgeon general has warned that obesity is fast becoming the nation's No. 1 health risk, and kids TV advertisers have come under heavy criticism for the way they market burgers, chips and candy.

For its part, the marketing industry has traditionally pointed to self-regulatory efforts, parental control of food budgets, more excercise and more education.