Kids Marketing

There is a lot of debate currently in Australia about the ethics of kids marketing,  mostly targeted at the fast  or “junk” food companies.  This is also tied to the practice of licensing, co-marketing around film and TV properties which has been common practice for many years.  That little green ogre on your happy meal or juice box came at a cost to you the consumer and perhaps to your child’s lifestyle.

The current debate centres around the assumption that there is a direct causal link between this advertising and increased weight gain in children.  While there is no disputing that most affluent western cultures have a problem with increased weight gain, there are a range of social and behavioural factors at play.  We do require vigilance on any marketing aimed at kids but common sense will win out.  And parents play a vital role in monitoring your child’s visual and caloric intake.

This ground swell campaign to ban advertising to children,  is noble but flawed on many levels.   We have in the past banned advertising of alcohol and tobacco products to supposedly responsible adults and seen almost nil direct  impact on consumption patterns.

The interesting fact is what makes it “junk” food.  Many major brands are busy disguising their protein cereal bars, drinks etc. as healthy snacks.  While they may be high in vitamins, minerals and proteins it is also likely they are high in fats or sugar.  Reading a standard product label requires a degree in chemistry, code breaking and the visual skills of a bird of prey.  Just try calculating what s standard serve is across a variety of products

There is no doubt that parents need help, and a better labelling standards with nutritional information in plain English would  be a good start to inform consumer choice.  Banning ads just hides the problem and puts the blame outside of our own control and choices.