Kraft Pulling Kids' Ads


Does this mean the Kool-Aid pitcher guy is going the way of Joe Camel? At least in kids' shows, apparently.

Kraft foods is pulling ads for a number of snack products as part of a two-pronged initiative to highlight the more nutritious products it sells.

Over the course of 2005, Kool-Aid, Oreos and Chips Ahoy! cookies, several Post cereals, and Lunchables lunch combinations will begin to disappear from TV, radio and print media targeted to childrens ages 6-11.

The move follows the issuing of new nutrition guidelines by the government and the growing problem of juvenile obesity, which the Surgeon General has said is on course to be the nation's top health problem.

The other part of the campaign is a new Sensible Solution labeling regime "featuring a prominent on-pack 'flag' for food and beverage products that meet specific, "better-for-you" nutrition criteria that Kraft has established for each category of products.

The company will continue to advertise the Sensible Solution products, but will curtail advertising of products that don’t qualify.

The move could prove to be quite a blow to children’s programmers, notably Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and Fox.

Nickelodeon, for one, says it hasn’t fully assessed the effects of Kraft’s plan, but has been anticipating this kind of a move from food advertisers and consulting with them for more than a year. A spokesman noted that cuts may be offset by Kraft’s plans to advertise healthier products. ""We see this as a positive opportunity to get more of a balance," the spokesman says.

Adonis Hoffman, senior VP and counsel to the American Association of Advertising Agencies, thinks other advertisers will likely follow suit.

"Companies are looking at adjusting their advertising as they consider possible ways to respond to the growing and legitimate public policy and health-care policy issues of obesity," he says.

The Kraft move, he says, "sets about some expectations for all advertisers who are marketing to children. I wouldn't be surprised to see other companies similarly adjust their advertising."

But is that move healthy for ad-supported media?

Kraft says it will "shift" its media strategy, which could be a signal to the media that those dollars aren't just going away, but will be placed elsewhere.

But Hoffman cautions that Kraft and others must, at some point, "make a decision on how far they want to go along these lines, because it could ultimately erode the commercial base of children's programming."--John Higgins contributed to this report.