Magazine article Marketing

The Marketing Society Forum: Is It Appropriate for Brands to Target Children in Schools?

Magazine article Marketing

The Marketing Society Forum: Is It Appropriate for Brands to Target Children in Schools?

Article excerpt

GlaxoSmithKline plans to pilot its latest Ribena variant, made with 85% fruit juice, through school catering groups in an attempt to re-establish the brand's popularity among children and teens.

MAYBE: Mark Jaffe, Marketing director, Westmill Foods

From a health and wellbeing perspective, children need to keep hydrated and can often be so absorbed in work and play at school that they may forget their thirst. Therefore, initiatives to assist with the provision of drinks can be helpful.

However, there is little to doubt the advice of those who recommend that water and milk are the best drinks for children. Moreover, water, especially, is not only calorie-free but helps to train the young palate to enjoy the hydration benefits of liquid without the lure of added flavour and sugar.

While a juice may appear healthy by offering '1 of your 5 a day', as is being claimed by Ribena Juiced Up, the flip-side is that sugar is not good for the teeth of children. Those stewarding the Ribena brand should recall the adverse comments surrounding its Toothkind product being linked to dental decay; because the brand franchise could be weakened considerably by any further loss of parents' confidence and trust.

MAYBE: Paul Seligman, Director, Communicator

As a libertarian, I hate the idea of control and constraint, but, alas, we are becoming a nation of 'little porkers' (almost 20% of kids are now obese - it's a big and growing problem), so we have to do something.

It's not about blaming brands - poor parenting and social and environmental factors are at the core of the problem. We have to accept that brands exist in a cultural/societal context. However, brands don't need to feel guilty or apologise for our current problems - simply change their act.

Most brands are not 'bad for you', although some are if taken in excess The problem is that kids are kids and many of them lack self-control.

So if your brand has a high sugar, calorie, salt or fat content, you have to be careful - both because you are part of the problem and because consumer groups are starting to become unofficial pressure groups. If you are directly targeting kids, you are open to criticism and possibly massive brand damage.

If you're going to walk this walk, I would be extremely careful. …

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