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.