by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: Marketing to kids

Feb 25 2009

The news in food marketing: love of Tropicana packaging?

When it comes to food marketing, I know I live on another planet but really, doesn’t the fuss over the packaging of Tropicana go too far?  According to the report in the New York Times, consumers are so upset over Pepsi’s new Tropicana carton design that they have forced Pepsi to withdraw it.  Pepsi, it seems, underestimated the deep emotional bond its customers had with the original packaging.  Deep emotional bond?  With orange juice packaging?  Readers: I need some help with this one.

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As if that weren’t enough, CSPI’s Margo Wootan sends me the latest newsletter from the Council of Better Business Bureaus giving details of voluntary efforts by food companies to improve the nutritional quality of products marketed to kids.   Do these seem like significant improvements?

Finally, the new USDA Secretary has just announced a partnership with Disney and the Ad Council to promote the MyPyramid for kids.  Isn’t this nice of Disney?

Feb 19 2009

CSPI’s latest campaign: Topps marketing

I am interested to see that the Center for Science in the Public Interest has taken on Topps marketing as a new campaign, and for good reason.  Topps, famous for chewing gum and baseball trading cards, makes a bunch of candies aimed at kids, one of them in the shape of infant feeding bottles. Disney is now using a kids’ music group – the Jonas Brothers – to promote the baby bottle candy.  Not a good idea.

In 2007, Michael Eisner, the former head of Disney bought Topps from the family firm that had owned it for decades.    Long before the sale, I once had lunch with Arthur Shorin, the former owner of Topps.  I was impressed by his responsible attitude about marketing candy to children.  He was facing a difficult problem.  Without doing irresponsible marketing, he couldn’t sell enough candy to stay in business.  Hence the sale to Eisner. At the time, Mr. Shorin said “This will be a change in ownership, not a change in direction.” Well, that’s business for you.

Update February 20: thanks to Dan for the correction.  Fixed.

Jan 2 2009

Happy new year: top anti-junk food marketing moments in 2008

The childhood obesity team at Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) sends along its new year’s greeting: “great anti-junk food marketing” moments in 2008.  These mostly focus on progress in industry self-regulation (voluntary) but also on congressional legislation to restrict marketing and put healthier foods in schools.  Food marketing to kids is the point of food industry vulnerability.  Food companies must stop marketing junk foods to kids.  Voluntary self-regulation is notoriously ineffective.  Legislative intervention is essential.  Maybe this will be possible under the new administration?  Fingers crossed.

Dec 11 2008

Nestlé (the company, not me) joins the pledge

The Nestlé (no relation to me company is pledging to restrict its marketing to children to products that meet industry-wide nutritional criteria.  This is a small step in the right direction but suffers from the same problems that beset all such initiatives: the nutritional criteria are established to permit lots of a company’s products to qualify, and not much accountability is built into the system.  Will efforts like this do any good?  We will have to wait and see.

Nov 24 2008

Reverse obesity in New York City? Here’s how

The City University of New York Campaign Against Diabetes and the Public Health Association of NYC have produced a new report: Reversing Obesity in New York City: An Action Plan for Reducing the Promotion and Accessibility of Unhealthy Food.  I especially like the clear statements of arguments – on both sides – of doing something about stopping junk food marketing, especially to kids.  This report should be useful for advocates who want to influence policy.  Thanks to Lauren Dinour, Liza Fuentes, and Nick Freudenberg for writing it.

Nov 15 2008

The latest on food marketing to kids

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has a big project on marketing foods and beverages to children.  Its most recent report singles out television advertising as the most pervasive medium; even babies watch TV and see loads of commercials for junk foods.  The authors, Nicole Larson and Mary Story of the University of Minnesota, provide an excellent one-stop review of methods, expenditures, and other such data, along with useful suggestions for what to do about this problem.

Jul 31 2008

The FTC number: $1.6 billion to market to kids

The FTC has released its new report on food marketing to kids.  The big news?  The food industry only spends $1.6 billion for this purpose, a figure nobody I know believes.  The FTC had to subpoena this information and I’m sure that companies gave the lowest number they could.  Kellogg may spend $32 million just for media advertising for Cheez-Its, but I’m sure it’s hard for the company to figure out how much of that goes for packages with cartoons on them.  The FTC press release compliments food companies for all the great things they are doing to protect kids from what they used to do.  It makes recommendations that begin with words like “work toward,” “encourage,” “continue,” and “consider,” but nothing much that says “stop!”  I think $1.6 billion is likely to be an underestimate but it doesn’t really matter.  The number should be zero, no?

Jul 28 2008

FTC food marketing report–Tuesday!

Thanks to Michele Simon for the heads up on the Federal Trade Commission’s new report on how much the food industry spends on marketing to kids.  The FTC is releasing the report Tuesday at 11:00 a.m.  I can’t wait to see what it says.  View the webcast!