Junk Food Injunction - Latest Edition
Message from the Editors
In this edition we review food advertising to children in 2010. We show which advertisements were caught out breaching the government regulations and the voluntary self-regulations.
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Hungry Jack’s, Nestle, Kraft and Donut King have been found in breach of the self-regulations while some television stations have been found to breach the Children’s Television Standards.
Hungry Jack’s and the Australian Quick Service Restaurant Industry Initiative
As a fast food company signed up to this Initiative since it commenced in August 2009, and already being found in breach in 2009, Hungry Jack’s was caught out three times in 2010 for advertising their Kids Club Meal, once in a TV commercial and twice in children’s magazines K-Zone and Totally Girl.
Nestle and the Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative
Nestle was found to breach the code twice in 2010 for showing advertisements for foods that were not healthy choices. An advertisement for Drumstick ice cream and another for Smarties were shown during children’s TV programs.
Kraft and the Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative
After a protracted complaints process and a reopening of the case by the Advertising Standards Board, the Kraft Oreos advertisement was found to breach the self-regulations after the complainant, The Obesity Policy Coalition, produced proof that it appeared in children’s programs.
Donut King and the AANA Code for Advertising and Marketing Communications to Children
Donut King was found to breach the Children’s Code on the front page of their website which featured a promotion which included toys from the Ice Age 3 movie. The ad featured one of the characters holding an iced donut with accompanying text "Free Ice Age 3 Toys with any iced cake donut and mini fruit freeze combo. Collect a new toy each week. Only $4.95”. The breach was not about the inclusion of toys to advertise the food but because the word ‘only’ was used in conjunction with the price.
Network TEN Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth and the Children’s Television Standards
The Australian Communications and Media Authority found that Network TEN in Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth breached the Children’s Television Standards (CTS) by showing an advertisement featuring the Streets Paddle Pop Lick-A-Prize competition multiple times in children’s programs. The Children’s Television Standards state that “during any 30 minutes of a C period a licensee may broadcast the same advertisement no more than twice”.
Channel Seven Brisbane and the Children’s Television Standards
Similarly, Channel 7 Brisbane was found in breach for showing the same advertisement featuring the Streets Paddle Pop Lick-A-Prize competition multiple times in children’s programs.
Read the whole report card http://junkbusters.com.au/busted/
Once a complaint is lodged and before the Advertising Standards Board considers it, the advertiser has the right to respond to the complaint.
We have gathered some of the responses advertisers gave to explain why they did not believe their advertisements were directed to children.
- Referring to the Kraft Oreos ad where two boys sit together in the school yard playing with their Oreos: “While the ad features children, it is designed for parents who will appreciate the way the ad dramatises and celebrates an innocent and natural part of childhood”
- “The advertisement was created for an adult audience, specifically to trigger for them happy memories of their childhood, reminding them of bright, happy, good times and of just being kids” (Nestle Allen’s snakes ad where a giant doll blows bubbles which turn into lollies)
- “Aimed to appeal to adults and remind them of their childhood days” (advertisement for McDonald’s with adults playing in the McDonald’s playground)
A further twenty five complaints that made it to the Advertising Standards Board were dismissed. Read the list of those dismissed complaints at http://junkbusters.com.au/busted/
It is not known how many complaints are dismissed before reaching the Board, some because they have been previously considered, others as they have run their planned course. The main reason that complaints about food advertising to children were dismissed relates to the definition of directed to children.
In November 2010, a ‘guideline’ was put out to guide interpretation of the Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative. This included the insertion of the word “clearly” in front of the phrase “directed primarily to children”.
Therefore under the existing self-regulatory Initiative children may be exposed to advertisements either in shows that are not “clearly directed primarily to children” or through advertisements that advertisers claim are directed at adults or teens.
Even the ASB’s own report shows that children can make up over a quarter of the audience in many of the highest rating television shows such as The Simpsons and Junior Masterchef.
Some of the reasons the board gave for dismissing complaints included:
- “The Board noted that the Simpsons is a popular programme among 5 – 12 year olds with ratings up to 28% of 0-12 year olds. Despite its popularity with children, however, the program does not have an audience of ‘predominantly’ children .”(Coca Cola advertisement)
- “the choice of an old-fashioned nursery rhyme indicated that the advertisement was directed more towards adults than towards children.” (Nestle Allen’s snakes advertisement)
- “although the advertisement features children, the wording used in the advertisement is directed at adults”. (Kellogg’s LCMs advertisement featuring children in a school playground opening a lunchbox)
Of particular community concern is the combination of toys with unhealthy products. However the Board stands by a previous ruling that toys in kid’s meals are an “integral part of the meal”
- “The Board noted that there are strong views in the community about advertising food and toy products, and in linking food and toy combinations with popular figures or movie characters. The Board's view is that there is not yet a community standard that treat foods should not be advertised at all, nor is there a standard that food products should not be sold in conjunction with toys or other merchandise” (Kinder Surprise advertisement).
It is unclear on what this measure of community standards is based. However there was an interesting development in December when the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) found that “a chance to win competition prizes, offered with the intention of inducing the purchase of a product or service can fall within the definition of a 'premium' ". ACMA noted that this differs from determinations made by the Advertising Standards Board which makes decisions under different codes.