Advertising To Kids Under Scrutiny

November 12, 2009

Advertising To Kids Under Scrutiny

Marketing and advertising by food marketers has often been scrutinized by government regulators and others. Just last week for example, Kellogg stopped printing claims on some of its breakfast cereals that promote immunity after receiving a letter from San Francisco's City Attorney stating that the “claims may mislead parents into believing that serving this sugary cereal will actually boost their child's immunity," as reported in The Food Institute’s daily e-mail update, Today In Food.

Concern over advertising and marketing to children is well placed, notes the Food Institute, as currently one in four Americans is under 18 years old. That translates into a children’s population of 75 million in the United States this year. And looking ahead, The Food Institute found that the government projects this population will grow 17% over the next 20 years, totaling an estimated 88 million by 2030. And all of those children have parents, many of whom may also be scrutinizing how food products are marketed to their offspring.

And how much advertising are we talking about? Well according to a study by The Federal Trade Commission, 44 major companies spent over  $1.6 billion to promote food and beverages to children and adolescents in the U.S. in 2006. Approximately $870 million was spent on food marketing directed to children under 12 and a little more than $1 billion on marketing to adolescents, with the remaining $300 million addressed to both age groups.

And a study from Yale University’s Rudd Center released last month found that the average preschooler sees 642 cereal ads per year, noted The Food Institute.

So this issue is not going to move to the backburner anytime soon and next month the FTC will be holding a forum on the impact of food advertising on children, and the statutory and constitutional issues surrounding governmental regulation of food marketing. 

Prior to that however, The Food Institute will be holding a webinar entitled Advertising to Children:  Successfully Meeting the Challenges, on November 17th. This webinar, moderated by Professor James Tillotson of Tufts’s, will address just what is the FTC looking for while regulating marketers Featured speakers are Elaine Kolish, Vice President and Director, Children’s Food & Beverage Advertising, Council of Better Business Bureaus; Wayne J. Keeley, Vice President & Director, Children's Advertising Review Unit (CARU), Council of Better Business Bureaus; and John P. Feldman, Partner, Reed Smith’s Washington, DC office. They will address these critical questions.  Don’t miss this critical discussion by those most knowledgeable in the field of children’s advertising.