Friday, July 20, 2007

11 Corporations Cave to FTC demands

In a surprising turn of events, 11 of the major advertisers of fast food, sugary cereals and soft drinks along with other food products aimed at children (Kellogg, Kraft, Cadbury, Campbell Soup, General Mills, Mars, McDonald's, Unilever, Coca-Cola, Pepsico, and Hershey) have made an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission to limit the amount of advertising for these wares targeted at children under 12.

Looking at that list, that is a significant portion of the market, and from the reports I've read, their ads make up 2/3 of all the food related advertising for children, which means that along with the toy companies, they are largely subsidizing children's programming, so if this agreement results in less advertising in general for these shows, well, that will likely mean that there will be less of these programs on the air. I don't think it will come to that, but you never know.

And after seeing the segment in The Corporation where the expert from one of those media buying groups was talking about the techniques they use to shape ads to specifically get kids to nag their parents for toys, snacks and other products, I really don't trust these companies' motives. Then they mentioned that compared to the ads of yesteryear, these were scientifically developed to be scarily effective on children. If the ads we grew up on were catchy, but they were crude devices of persuasion compared with the ads of today. Now, with less enticing products in terms of palate appeal, I am sure that these companies will be working overtime to improve their techniques once more. When I think of kids, the words health conscious don't really spring immediately to mind.

But really, I think we can all guess why these eleven companies agreed to this compromise: they had a feeling that, like the organizers of the MPAA and the ESRB, their industry was going to come under heavy scrutiny from the government and perhaps much stronger prohibitions would have been put into place. After all, there was going to be a hearing at the FTC about childhood obesity, and it is better to make a separate agreement early rather than be one of the corporations that waited for the panel to devise regulations for the industry. The FTC asked for a voluntary system to be implemented back in 2005, but it was the threat of regulation that finally made these organizations act.

Honestly, I didn't think they would all cave as a group... I never saw that coming.


Micgar said...

I didn't think they would do that either. I'm with you on that they will probably go back to their evil workshops and construct ad campaigns that fly "under the radar" of the FTC. They will figure a way out of it.

MC said...

Or they will use the cigarette company defense that they aren't marketing their stuff to minors.

J.D. said...

Wow. I'm kinda scared.

MC said...

Are you thinking that the Burger King is going to be unemployed and start roaming the streets looking for homeless people whose souls he can eat?

J.D. said...

OMG, that's it exactly! And that Ronald McDonald will run for president of China and declare war on those who do not stuff their faces and his armies will be massive beyond count... Eek.

MC said...

And then Colonel Sanders will makes the dead into little bowls of shame for those who hate burgers and the regional burger chains will make an alliance to unseat the Arby's from Middle America.

The horror, the horror.

Oh, and let the weaseling begin