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Sneaky food ads decline on TV but pop up elsewhere

Monday, July 22, 2013 by: Ben Meredith
Tags: television, food advertising, mass media

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(NaturalNews) In recent years, there has been plenty of notice given to unhealthy food advertisements on TV, specifically geared toward kids. The most recent analysis finds that the quantity and frequency of these ads are on the decline - but are they finding other places to make an appearance?

A new analysis from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has found that marketers in the food-and-beverage industry have slightly improved the nutritional messages in their child-geared ads. This same analysis; however, has also found that the marketers have increased their spending on new media campaigns.

This study is following up on a study the FTC did in 2008 at the request of Congress, due to concerns about the rising rates of obesity in the U.S. Both the old and new reports procured their data by subpoenaing 48 major food and beverage marketers, such as General Mills and Kraft Foods. 2008's study looked at data from 2006, and the new study looked at data from 2009.

If taken at face value, the comparison from 2008 and today seems promising. Total spending on kid-geared food marketing dropped from $2.1 billion in 2006 to $1.79 billion in 2009 - a 19.5 percent drop. Regardless of these numbers; however, the FTC found that the marketers have shifted their attention from traditional advertising media (like TV commercials) to new media strategies (like the internet and smartphones). In fact, from 2006 to 2009, the spending on new media increased by a massive 50 percent.

The FTC wrote that the goal for these major food and beverage companies is to increase "pester power." The theory of these marketers is that, by utilizing the images of favorite characters on the food or the packaging, children will want the product that much more. And, ultimately, the marketers want the child to beg over and over and over again for this product that appeals to them so much, essentially wearing the parents down until they buy it - thus, "pester power."

They're not delusional in their hopes, either. About 75 percent of parents bought a new product for the first time at their child's request.

Nevertheless, the FTC did note that there has been an improvement in the nutrition content of products geared toward children. For example, they found that there was less sugar and a little more whole grain in cereals advertised to children aged two to 11 in 2009 than there was in 2006.

As noted, the data the FTC has recently released is from 2009. Since then, the use and popularity of smartphones has increased dramatically, thus leaving the new report rather dated. This is just another reason for parents to remain vigilant in the fight against childhood obesity.

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About the author:
Ben enjoys writing about the benefits of green tea at Tendig.com, a revenue sharing site that publishes unique and interesting articles.

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