Trying to persuade critics the industry does not need government regulation, 11 big food companies, including McDonald's, Campbell Soup and PepsiCo, have agreed to stop advertising to children under 12 products that do not meet certain nutritional standards. Some of the companies, like Coca-Cola, have already withdrawn all such commercials or are in the process of doing so. Others, like General Mills, said they would withdraw them over the next year or so, while a handful agreed to expand their self-imposed bans to radio, print and Internet advertising.
As the NY Times reported 7/18/07, this is a self-imposed ban. The reason why? The last thing the big brand marketers want or need is to have more Big Brother government intervention in their marketing. Let's hope that never happens. I understand the seriousness of this country's childhood obesity problem, but if we allow government intererence, it will be the most slippery slope you've ever seen. When government dictates how and where we can advertise certain products to certain age groups, it'll be over and out. There are many people, including politicians, in this country who feel the advertising industry is made up of hucksters who want to make you buy things that are bad for you and that you cannot afford. And, of course, because we're so evil, we will stop at nothing to pollute the minds of our precious children.
In a July 18 news release, AAF President Wally Snyder praised the commitment of the advertising industry on its aggressive self-regulation efforts. Snyder says, "The industry has responded positively and aggressively to improve its self-regulatory response." The poor guy had to go straight home and take six showers after making that statement.
As an AAF member and ad agency owner, it all just makes me feel uneasy.
But fear not, ad fans, apparently while General Mills will no longer be advertising Trix to 12-and-under viewers, it will continue to advertise Cocoa Puffs, which have one less gram of sugar per serving. And it will be able to continue advertising Trix on other TV shows and media that are considered to cater to "families" rather than just kids.
Thank goodness for those talented media planners. Silly rabbit. Sorry, couldn't resist that one.