Children have long been victims of television advertising, possibly a major factor in the epidemic rates of childhood obesity. Up to 39% of television advertising seen by children between the ages of 2 and 7 years and 95% of that seen by 8–19 year olds sells food. And the vast majority of those promote candy, snacks, fast food, cereal, and soda and focus on “taste” as the primary appeal.
In response, the Kellogg Co. is scrutinizing whether certain products might be unsuitable for marketing to children. Specifically, it is discontinuing marketing sugary cereals to children. To address childhood obesity, the company is adding “Guideline Daily Amounts” to its cereal boxes, listing the percentages of calories, total fat, sodium, and grams of sugar per serving, along with the nutrient levels of fiber and vitamins A, C, and E. Kellogg’s leadership in the field of marketing to children has forced other companies, like General Mills, to discontinue unhealthy practices.
The health changes companies have made also appear healthy for their stock prices. When McDonald’s added healthier menu items such as salads, chicken sandwiches, and wraps, its shares increased almost 50% in a year.
1. Do you think changes to marketing to children will translate into reduced childhood obesity and healthier children?
Pierce Hollingsworth, “Healthy–the New Green for Wall Street,” Stagnito’s New Products Magazine, July 2007.
Nikki Hopewell, “In the News,” Marketing News, July 15, 2007.
Mark Dolliver, “Examining Kids’ Heavy Consumption of Television Advertising for Foods,” Adweek, April 2, 2007.