The trends, said to represent nearly 70 per cent of EU food advertising, reveals a big shift in the marketing mix to children. “A major effort has been made to put advertising spend behind “better-for-you” products or to move out of children’s airtime altogether,” according to a statement from advertising representatives, the World Federation of Advertisers.
“At the same time children are being exposed to significantly less advertising for all food products across all programming.”
Children are seeing 36 per cent less advertising for all food products in all TV programmes on all channels at all times this year compared with five years ago. There has also been a 60 per cent decline in advertising for these products all TV programmes on all channels at all times.
Some companies, such as Coca-Cola, Ferrero and Mars no longer advertise any of their products to children in the European market, according to Accenture.
Most are also said to have adopted nutritional criteria to define healthier products within their portfolios.
The research was conducted as part of the EU Pledge; a commitment made by 11 food manufacturers in December 2007 to change the way they advertise food products to children under 12 years. The commitments, covering advertising on TV, print, the internet and communications in primary schools, include an agreement to support independent monitoring.
Accenture’s analysis of more than 580,000 TV spots in six sample markets - Greece, Hungary, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Spain - found a compliance rate of 98.9%.
A study of online advertising across nearly 50 websites identified as targeting under12s in the same markets found just one case of non-compliance.
Monitoring of print advertising in children’s magazines in France, Spain, Portugal and the UK found 100% compliance.
WFA managing director Stephan Loerke concluded that the research showed the power of self regulation. “Voluntary action can often be more effective and delivered in a shorter timeframe than government regulation. These independent audits show how self-regulation can help deliver on public policy objectives and why it should not be discounted from the policy mix,” he said.
The impact of the EU Pledge will be strengthened even further following Kraft’s takeover of Cadbury and Mars’ takeover of Wrigley, added Loerke.
Also five major snack manufacturers – Procter & Gamble, Intersnack, Lorenz Snack-World, Unichips – San Carlo and Zweifel Pomy-Chip – have joined the pledge scheme and will be monitored for the first time next year.
Companies supporting the EU Pledge at present include: Burger King, Coca-Cola, Danone, Ferrero, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Kraft Foods, Mars, PepsiCo, Nestle and Unilever.