Defending the indefensible – Brands respond to their 2021 Shame Award wins

Some of the shame category winners from this year’s Parents’ Voice Fame & Shame Awards have not taken the news of their win quite as hoped, choosing to defend their advertising practices, which were voted by parents to be among the worst ads and sponsorships targeting Australian kids in 2021.

Every year, Parents’ Voice distributes letters informing the shame award winners of their “victory” and asking them to put kids’ health first and to cease targeting any future advertising campaigns at Australian children and adolescents.

Parents’ Voice Steering Committee Chair, Ms Kristie Cocotis, said: “We advise the winners – including the Australian Olympic Committee – of their award and explain why parents objected to their practices. Our thinking is they might use this feedback from parents to change their approach in the future.”

In their response, the Australian Olympic Committee appear to turn a blind eye to this consumer feedback, claiming that the “… support of all our sponsors contributes to the AOC’s efforts to send Teams to Games and inspiring generations of Australian children to pursue active and healthy lifestyles.”

We argue that they are sending mixed messages to Australian children. Instead of agreeing to take money from Cadbury and Coca-Cola to achieve these goals, they should be promoting a whole-of-health approach by partnering with brands that inspire kids to eat well and be active.

Another winner’s claims were equally bewildering – claiming that school-related displays in supermarkets were directed to primarily adult audiences. Clearly, they did not understand the concept of the bother board award.

“Defending the indefensible is not the outcome our parents were hoping to see from these brands,” Ms Cocotis said. “They want to see real change. They want brands to take responsibility and stop targeting young Australians immediately. These responses only strengthen the argument that self-regulation doesn’t work.”

A copy of the response letter from the Australian Olympic Committee is available here.


Media contacts:
Evie Dartnell 0401 596 797
Annette Glenister 0400 772 722

About Parents’ Voice

Parents’ Voice is an online movement of parents who are interested in improving the food and activity environments of Australian children. Formerly known as The Parents’ Jury, Parents’ Voice was formed in 2004 and represents thousands of Australian parents, carers and health professionals. Parents’ Voice is supported by Diabetes Victoria and VicHealth.

About Fame & Shame

The Parents’ Voice Fame & Shame Awards aim to raise awareness of the persuasive and misleading techniques that advertisers use to promote unhealthy foods and drinks to children, and to recognise the campaigns that promote healthy food and physical activity to children in a fun and appealing way.

Since 2005, the awards have given Australian parents the chance to have their say about the food marketing techniques they believe are targeting their children. Parents’ Voice members nominate examples of the best and worst food marketing campaigns throughout the year. Parents then vote on the shortlisted ads to determine the winners.

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