Magazine article Marketing

Opinion: The Marketing Society Forum - Are the Days of Using Animated Characters in Ads Over?

Magazine article Marketing

Opinion: The Marketing Society Forum - Are the Days of Using Animated Characters in Ads Over?

Article excerpt

Which?, the campaigning consumer information service, has called for a tightening of the rules on the use of animated characters in ads, claiming that they promote unhealthy eating in children.


Animation has been used in advertising for decades, long before there was any hint of the obesity problem now facing adults and children in the UK.

The presence of animation has not played a part in the increase of obesity, and the removal of it would make little difference in solving this health challenge.

A child's journey toward obesity starts at an early age and in the home, so our focus should be on supporting parents to help their kids.

No parent wants an unhealthy child, and they make the choices about what products to buy. A ban on animated characters would be a distraction from where the priorities lie. Keep the characters, encourage them to support messages about balanced and healthy lifestyles and focus on where real differences can be made.


This debate, while well-intentioned, is out of date before it has begun From January, all HFSS product advertising on children's channels will end. The rules have been set: owners of HFSS food brands will be talking to parents and children in adult airtime.

The question is not whether cartoon characters are an unsustainable creative device; it is what sort of conversation HFSS brands will be having with this audience in the future, and what part these characters will play.

The 'new conversation' is likely to revolve around the role of a brand in the healthy, balanced lifestyle of a child, and the brand's nostalgic appeal, evidenced by its childlike associations and values, and the ways in which the product itself has changed since the last conversation.

The unwritten social contract that underpins this conversation assumes the following: that consumers have full access to the information, which they do; that advertising is closely regulated, which it is; and that competitive forces are an incentive to good marketing citizenship, which they are.

There is a future for animated characters to talk about, say, the importance of breakfast. …

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