JUNK FOOD MARKETING

Children are particularly vulnerable to the persuasive powers of food marketing. It greatly influences their food preferences and consumption. They are surrounded by it online, while watching TV, using apps and playing games, supermarket shopping and playing sport.

This is no accident. The food and beverage industry spends millions of dollars each year targeting children because it works. Children not only influence family purchasing decisions, they will soon become valuable independent teenage and adult consumers.

Most food marketed to children is unhealthy which is why kids pester parents to buy junk food rather than fruit and vegetables. The influence of junk food marketing has no doubt contributed to 1 in 4 Australian children being overweight or obese.

Join the Parents’ Voice Food Detectives campaign. Let us know about kid’s snacks and drinks that you suspect are junk foods disguised as health food.

FOOD DETECTIVE CAMPAIGN

Sports Sponsorship

Tell us about a healthy sponsorship deal your club has forged with a local business so we can give them a shout out.

We usually associate sport with a healthy and active lifestyle but food and drink companies frequently use sport to promote unhealthy food to kids. Australian children are not protected from unhealthy food sponsorship at any level or age group and this needs to change.

Sports clubs and associations do a great job providing Aussie kids with sporting opportunities but they also have a responsibility to children to provide positive messages about nutrition. Due to limited funding avenues for children’s sport, clubs often resort to sponsorship from junk food and drink companies. The result is that children receive contradictory messages that encourage unhealthy eating behaviours.

It’s a profitable game for marketers

Compared to the cost of television advertising, the promotion of food and drink to children through sports’ sponsorship is relatively inexpensive. Junk food promotion:

  • increases children’s familiarity with food and drink brands
  • associates particular foods and drinks with an activity children enjoy and therefore generates a positive association
  • builds customer relationships and creates long term loyalty
  • targets children at a time in their life when they are more susceptible to the persuasive intent of marketing and advertising
  • generates a favourable relationship with parents as well

Junk food promotions to look out for

Food and drink companies promote to children through sport in a variety of ways. It is not just sponsorship of children’s sport that influences our kids.

Some brands spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each year sponsoring big league sport at a national level. You can imagine the appeal for your child in a particular food or drink if their favourite team or athlete promotes it.

Marketing of unhealthy food and drink through sport can take the form of:

  • naming rights for teams and events
  • signage at sports club on billboards
  • logos on uniforms
  • branded merchandise giveaways such as hats and water bottles
  • food and drink samples and giveaways including discount vouchers
  • free meals at fast food outlet
  • promotional fliers for brand or specific products
  • logos on printed materials such as welcome kit or club handbook

Healthy sponsorship ideas

There are many alternatives that sports clubs can consider approaching for sponsorship funds instead of companies that market unhealthy food and drinks to children. Examples include:

  • sports retailers
  • sports clothing and equipment manufacturers
  • banks
  • telecommunications companies
  • travel companies

If you are a business looking to sponsor children’s sport, firstly you are awesome! Secondly, please contact us and we will put you in touch with the right people.

Do you have any other suggestions? Log onto our Facebook page or contact us and tell us your ideas.

Pester Power

Share your tips for combatting Pester Power.

Some members of the food industry will try to pass the blame to parents. They say parents should just say ‘no’ when kids pester for unhealthy food or that parents need teach their kids to adopt a healthy balanced diet combined with exercise. As parents we accept that this is mostly our responsibility. But it is not that simple. It is extremely difficult for parents to override the sophisticated marketing messages that kids are bombarded with every day. We need to reduce children’s exposure to junk food marketing to even the playing field.

Combating Pester Power

Parents do say ‘no’ when children are pestering for the unhealthy food overwhelmingly displayed at supermarket checkouts. However, it’s hard to say no all the time. Parents’ Voice members share top tips for tackling checkout pester power:

  • Set clear food boundaries with your kids. Talk about ‘anytime’ and ‘sometimes’ foods
  • Be strong when ‘pester power’ kicks in! Persistent nagging is a powerful tool for kids to get what they want and giving in reinforces this behaviour
  • Read nutrition labels with your children. Talk about the ingredients and where food comes from
  • Let your kids take part in the grocery shopping by asking them to pick out healthy foods or collect the ingredients for a healthy meal.
  • Be a good role model. Buy, eat and prepare foods that you want your children to eat.
  • Talk about advertising and marketing tricks with older kids.

When they are too young to reason with:

  • Only take little ones shopping on a full belly
  • Take toys or books along to occupy hands and minds at the checkout
  • Don’t introduce lollies etc. too soon – kids don’t know they exist until we introduce them or they get old enough to discover them

Got some more to share with us? We’d love to hear from you.

Do you have any other suggestions? Log onto our Face book page or contact us and tell us your ideas.

Regulations

Is their an ad, app or promotion that you feel is promoting junk food or unhealthy beverages to your children? Tell us about it and we will help you hold the advertiser accountable.

The regulatory system for food and drink marketing to children is complex and does not adequately protect our kids from the large amount of persuasive food and drink marketing.

Most Australian food and beverage companies claim to market to children responsibly however, the regulation of this practice is jointly administered by the television, advertising and food industries. Unfortunately, industry self-regulation is not working.

The World Health Organisation is calling for governments to step in restrict junk food marketing to kids to help curb childhood obesity. Only further regulations will sufficiently change the food marketing environment to reduce the negative influence on children’s eating habits.

Parents’ Voice supports:

  • a ban on all television advertisements for unhealthy foods during children’s peak TV viewing times (from 6-9am and 4-9pm on weekdays, and 6am-12pm and 4-9pm on weekends).
  • restrictions on other forms of marketing unhealthy foods and drinks to children, including endorsements by celebrities and characters, premium offers (such as collectable toys or on-pack competitions), cinema, print and online advertising.

You can hold the food and beverage industry accountable by:

  • Lodging a complaint about an advertisement you think is targeting your children with the assistance of our friends at Junkbusters
  • Helping us to expose the marketing tactics of the food industry by nominating an ad or campaign for our annual Fame and Shame Awards. To review past ‘winners,’ check out our Hall of Fame and Hall of Shame.