The Top 12 Marketing Methods Used to Get Our Kids to Eat Junk Food

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), January 30, 2006 | Go to article overview

The Top 12 Marketing Methods Used to Get Our Kids to Eat Junk Food


Byline: By MOLLY WATSON Western Mail

Junk food manufacturers have been accused of using underhand tactics to target children and encourage them to eat unhealthily A new report from consumer watchdog Which? highlights what it describes as 12 key marketing 'tricks', many of which rely on new technology, enabling manufacturers to bypass parents and appeal directly to children. Tools such as text messaging, the internet and online computer games have all become part of the marketing armour. Common tactics include advertising on computer games, 'Text 2 Win' competitions and reinforcing brand identities through product placement and developing ranges of toys or websites. Sue Davies, chief policy adviser at Which?, said, 'It can be incredibly difficult to protect your child. 'While at home, shopping, playing and even at school, children are constantly bombarded with calculated marketing messages encouraging them to eat more junk food. Such reckless marketing undermines efforts to improve children's diets. 'Irresponsible marketing of foods high in fat, sugar and salt to children has to stop. 'This is crunch-time for the industry. If it fails to act, and current signs aren't promising, the Government must stick to its pledge to legislate.' According to experts at Swansea university, 8% of girls and as many as 5% of boys in Wales are obese by the time they are five. And this weekend it was revealed children as young as 11 are being targeted by slimming clubs.

But child obesity expert and senior lecturer at the University of Glamorgan, Dr Wyndham Boobier said attacking successful marketing tactics would not solve the obesity crisis. He said, 'I have a problem with everything being blamed on the way things are marketed. 'What I say is that if these companies are finding such innovative ways to advertise, why can't manufacturers of healthy food use a bit of intelligence and do that as well. And why won't the prominent people who advertise junk food not do the same for fruit and veg. 'It's not just food manufacturers, we all have a role to play, especially parents. It's easy for parents to blame the way food is advertised but if parents don't want their children to eat these foods then they should stop buying them.

If junk food isn't in the kitchen, then children won't eat it.'

Deputy director of the Welsh Consumer Council, Rhys Evans said he agreed tighter controls were needed but he said with junk food manufacturers wielding such power, the most important thing is to make sure food packaging contains adequate nutritional information.

He said, 'It's always been an obvious sales tactic to try to target children who will then put pressure on their parents.

'Retailers are extremely clever about the way they sell their goods.

'They do an incredible amount of market research so it's no surprise that they find ways of trying to sell us new things.

'What we need to make sure is that people are given enough information so that when it comes to them choosing whether to buy a product they can know what's gone into it and whether it will be good for their child.' A spokesperson from the Chartered Institute of Marketing said there are currently no restrictions on how companies market towards children. …

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