This TED-talk is a great follow-up to the debate on childhood obesity I wrote about a couple of days ago. It gives a compelling argument why children should be, as the presenter puts it, “none of the food marketers’ business.”
I was particularly struck by how ubiquitous food advertisement to children in the US is, particularly the classroom examples she gave. I wonder whether this is true to the same extent in Europe? Does anybody have any examples?
I know that there exists legislation to ban or restrict advertisement to children; in Sweden, Norway and Quebec (a province of Canada), all advertisement that directly targets children below the age of 12 is forbidden. Additionally, in the UK, Greece, Denmark and Belgium there exist restrictions on what is allowed and what isn’t.
The Wikipedia page on advertising to children actually hosts a wealth of additional information, including the EU Audiovisual Media Services Directive that applies to all 27 EU member states (member states are free to create their own laws, but they must have at least this level of severity). The legislation restricts marketing to children as follows:
“Advertising shall not cause moral or physical detriment to minors, and shall therefore comply with the following criteria for their protection:
- a. it shall not directly exhort minors to buy a product or a service by exploiting their inexperience or credulity;
- b. it shall not directly encourage minors to persuade their parents or others to purchase the goods or services being advertised; (<- directly addresses the “pester power” the presenter talked about)
- c. it shall not exploit the special trust minors place in parents, teachers or other persons;
- d. it shall not unreasonably show minors in dangerous situations;
- e. Children’s programs may only be interrupted if the scheduled duration is longer than 30 minutes;
- f. Product placement is not allowed in children’s programs.
- g. The Member States and the Commission should encourage audiovisual media service providers to develop codes of conduct regarding the advertising of certain foods in children’s programs.”
I liked that the Directive directly addressed food advertising in kid programs, although the usefulness of voluntary codes of conduct might be debatable (there already exist a number of such initiatives, such as the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, with pledges of food companies like Kraft Foods, Mars, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola Co., Pepsi-Co etc – basically all the companies the presenter mentioned as worst-case examples…)
Do you know of similar examples of (food) marketing to children? Are you a victim of “pester power”?