Sport shamed for targeting kids with unhealthy food marketing

Fame & Shame Awards 2021

Media opportunity: 11am on Tuesday 23 November 2021
Lincoln Square, Bouverie St, Carlton VIC 3053

Australian parents have taken a stand and are demanding that unhealthy food manufacturers distance themselves from advertising to children as part of the Parent’s Voice Fame & Shame Awards. Now in its 17th year, the annual awards highlight the worst of unhealthy food marketing and celebrate those promoting a healthier lifestyle to kids instead.

This year, a record number of nominations were received for the Fame & Shame Awards. Almost 100 advertisements were nominated over the year, with the Foul Sport shame award category attracting almost a third of all nominations. This is problematic in another year of disruption due to COVID-19, which meant more children were watching their favourite sports on TV instead of playing them.

Alice Pryor, Parents’ Voice Manager said: “Kids are inspired by the feats of their sporting champions, but this year saw an increasing number of major sporting events plastered with unhealthy food and drink marketing. None more so than the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after the Australian Olympic Committee agreed to take money from Cadbury and Coca-Cola. This decision earned the votes of Australian parents, resulting in the Australian Olympic Committee winning this year’s Foul Sport shame award.”

“Unfortunately, the Foul Sport category was hotly contested with both silver and bronze taken out by McDonald’s Australia,” Ms Pryor continued. “Parents are sick and tired of processed food companies using the health halo of sport to promote their unhealthy products to kids. Government need to step in and set a higher standard for the advertising that is allowed during live sports broadcasts.”

Not all sporting codes push unhealthy food at children, with a great range of advertisements nominated for the Parents’ Choice – Physical Activity fame award, which is given to the campaign that most encourages children to have fun while being active. This year’s best and fairest was awarded by parents to Rebel Sport for their Dreams Start Here campaign.

Sarah Dwyer, parent of four, commented: “This ad highlights all the things we want kids to be thinking about when watching professional sport. That everyone starts at the beginning, that sport is inspiring and fun and full of ups and downs. I wish more of the ads shown during sports broadcasts inspired kids to eat well and be active.”

An honourable mention was also awarded to soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo for starting a movement of professional sports people removing unhealthy products from media conferences. Ronaldo’s actions not only wiped A$5.2 billion from Coca-Cola’s market value, it inspired other athletes with Australia’s own David Warner taking up the baton.

This year, every award category had digital nominees, highlighting the pervasive problem of digital advertising to children. The worst of the worst is awarded the Digital Ninja shame award, with KFC dancing into top spot with their cricket themed TikTok #Buckethead Challenge.

Jane Martin, Executive Manager, Obesity Policy Coalition said: “This is the perfect example of why we need government to set higher standards to protect kids online from the powerful influence of unhealthy food marketing which is wallpaper in their lives. The processed food industry is targeting our kids with marketing dressed up as entertainment, using sneaky tactics to not only engage and influence them in the short term, but keep them as consumers for life.”
Kellogg’s continued their ‘winning’ streak, taking out a hattrick with their third consecutive win in the Smoke and Mirrors shame category. The ad claims that their Oaty Puffs LCM Bars are the ‘snack you don’t have to hide’, but with almost 20 per cent sugar, this is not a suitable snack for children.

McDonald’s beat out stiff competition from Kellogg’s to take out the Pester Power shame award. In another example of digital marketing being used to combine unhealthy food and sport, the McDonald’s ‘winning’ campaign encourages children buy a Happy Meal and sign up for the mymacca’s app to win a Space Jam themed Xbox prize.

Ms Pryor added: “Once again processed food companies are using digital means to target kids. The McDonald’s mymaccas application also featured in our recent complaint to Ad Standards. We are also concerned by the collection of children’s private data, via the mymacca’s app registration, as part of this style of promotion.”

The Bother Boards category, awarded to the brand which has used advertising boards to influence children, was awarded to Ferrero for parking their child sized Nutella school bus in supermarkets.

It’s not all bad news, in addition to the Parents’ Choice – Physical Activity fame award, parents gave two gold medals in the Parents’ Choice – Food fame award category. Hort Innovation was awarded for the clever Australian Avocados Olympic-not-Olympic ad, ‘Our Green Gold’ and parents were equally impressed by Woolworths ‘Today’s Fresh Food People’ ad, which sparked conversations in lounge rooms around Australia about healthy green food.

Ms Pryor concluded: “The link between unhealthy food marketing to children and 1 in 4 Australian children being above a healthy weight is clear. When even a pandemic is unable to stop unhealthy food marketing invading our homes and lives, it’s past time for the Government to step up and set higher regulatory standards for the packaging and marketing of food products to protect Aussie kids.”


Media contacts:
Alice Pryor 0416 219 261
Evie Dartnell 0401 596 797
Shannon Crane 0432 157 720 (For interview requests for Dr Sandro Demaio)

Media Opportunity:
11am on Tuesday 23 November 2021 at Lincoln Square, Bouverie Street, CARLTON VIC 3053
Journalists will have the opportunity to interview attending experts and parents with their children including:

Alice Pryor: Manager, Parents’ Voice
Jane Martin: Executive Manager, Obesity Policy Coalition
Byron de Kock: Avocados Ambassador, Hort Innovation (Parents’ Choice – Food fame winner)
Phillip Grillo: State Retail Lead, Rebel Sport (Parents’ Choice – Physical Activity fame winner)
Nicole French: Parent and Exercise Physiologist
Asherly Bradac: Parent and child

Dr Sandro Demaio: CEO, VicHealth (will be available offsite for interview)

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 winner.

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