FTC Reports on Food Marketing to Children & Adolescents

After months of analyzing confidential information from 44 major food and beverage marketers, the Federal Trade Commission has released a set of recommendations to be followed when marketing to children.

The report (based on 2006 data) looks at both traditional advertising and promotional marketing, including packaging, in-store advertising, sweepstakes, internet promotions, event sponsorship, and promotions that take place in schools.

The FTC sent the following thirteen food and beverage companies “compulsory process orders” to ensure their participation: Burger King, Cadbury Adams, Campbell Soup Company, The Coca-Cola Company, ConAgra Foods, General Mills, The Hershey Company, Kellogg Company, Kraft Foods, Mars, McDonald’s USA, PepsiCo, and Unilever United States. These companies are estimated to have accounted for more than two-thirds of food and beverage television advertising directed to children in 2004.

The FTC found that these firms’ campaigns were “fully integrated” and “sweeping” in nature, playing out across a wide range of media, including those tied to 80 TV shows or movies popular with children. In total, these companies spent more than $208 million, representing 13% of all youth-directed marketing, on cross-promotional campaigns. For some food categories, such as restaurant food and fruits and vegetables, cross-promotions accounted for nearly 50% of reported child-directed expenditures.

In breaking down the $1.6 billion spent on advertising food, the FTC found that approximately $870 million was spent on child-directed marketing, just over $1 billion was spent on marketing to adolescents, and about $300 million overlapped between the two age groups.

Read the full report here.


Foreclosure Filings up 120%, Buy Foreclosed Properties

Excerpted from CNNMoney.com:

As foreclosures continue to soar, 220,000 homes were lost to bank repossessions in the second quarter, according to a housing market report Friday issued by RealtyTrac.

That’s nearly triple the number from the same period in 2007.

A total of 739,714 foreclosure filings were recorded during that three-month period, up 14% from the first quarter, and 121% from the same period in 2007. That means that one of every 171 U.S. households received a filing, which include notices of default, auction sale notices and bank repossessions.

More foreclosure gloom – Jul. 25, 2008.

If you’re in a position to buy right now, foreclosed properties can be a real deal. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac both have loads of properties to sell—many of which are under the appraised value.


New eBay Strategy Favors Big Sellers

Excerpted from “EBay Deal With Buy.com Angers Auction Site’s Sellers” (NYTimes.com):

Consumers appear to be tiring of online auctions, and rivals like Amazon.com are attracting more shoppers with fixed-price listings, while eBay has been struggling for growth. To shift toward that model, eBay has struck a deal with the Web retailer Buy.com that allows the company to sell millions of books, DVDs, electronics and other items on eBay without paying the full complement of eBay fees.

The recent change is one of several under eBay’s new chief, John Donahoe, that is stirring rancor among the faithful who depend on the site for their livelihood. The deal with Buy.com has added over five million fixed-price listings to eBay.com since the beginning of the year — for items from Xbox 360 video game consoles to Weber grills.

Since eBay’s search listings favor larger sellers who can add perks like free shipping, which improve their feedback ratings, Buy.com’s presence has hurt many smaller sellers that compete in those product categories.

EBay is signaling that its future lies with big, reliable sellers, not the mom and pop shops that are objecting so vociferously to the Buy.com deal, said Tim Boyd, an Internet analyst with American Technology Research. “It’s a tragic ending to what was once a warm and fuzzy Silicon Valley story,” he said.

EBay Deal With Buy.com Angers Auction Site’s Sellers – NYTimes.com.


Free Credit Monitoring from TransUnion

Excerpted from Get Free Credit-Monitoring Services, by Kimberly Lankford, for Yahoo! Finance:

TransUnion agreed to offer free credit monitoring to more than 160 million people as part of a preliminary lawsuit settlement. The suit claims that TransUnion violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act by selling lists with consumers’ personal and financial information for marketing purposes. TransUnion discontinued that business several years ago.

The settlement applies to everyone who had an open credit account or open line of credit from any lender from January 1, 1987, to May 28, 2008. Anyone with a credit card, car loan, mortgage, student loan or any other loan qualifies, which means most adults do.

To sign up, go to ListClassAction.com from now until September 24 and click on the register for benefits link.

Get-Free-Credit-Monitoring-Services: Personal Finance News from Yahoo! Finance.


There’s Still Time to Claim Tax Rebate

Excerpted from IRS: There’s still time to claim tax rebate (USATODAY.com):

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government on Friday sent out the last of the economic stimulus checks for people who filed tax returns before April 15.

But the Internal Revenue Service stressed that it’s not too late for those who haven’t yet filed returns to benefit from the payments.

The tax agency said it will continue processing tax returns and issuing stimulus checks for much of the year. In particular, it is urging some 5 million Social Security recipients and veterans who don’t normally need to file returns to do so this year so they can qualify for checks.

It urged this group, and people who received extensions for filing, to file by October 15 to ensure they receive a payment before the end of the year.

IRS: There’s still time to claim tax rebate – USATODAY.com.