Junk food ads and brand placement: Joint use increases effect on children

By Joyeeta Basu

- Last updated on GMT

The report said it highlighted the need to understand the power of using advertising and placement together for managerial implications.
The report said it highlighted the need to understand the power of using advertising and placement together for managerial implications.

Related tags Junk food Nutrition

The combined use of TV brand placements with advertising could increase the effect on children's brand awareness and behaviour towards junk food, a new study has said.

The research found that isolated use of advertising and product placement increased the level of recall and behaviour toward both a product (fast food) and a brand (McDonald’s).

But when used together, the effects on children were found to be even stronger, said the research published in Appetite​.

This finding is particularly relevant because pieces of research usually examine the case of advertising or placement in an isolated way, but companies tend to use these communication tools jointly.

[This] means that in the “real world” the effects of advertising on children detected by previous research by examining only advertising or placement should be stronger than has been proposed to date,”​ said lead author Dr Rodrigo Uribe at the department of business, University of Chile.

Advertisement to children has continued to be a contentious issue between food industries and regulators worldwide. Though a host of major food firms signed up to health and wellness pledges on advertisement to children by 2018 ​ and Netherlands banned food ads to children under 13 in January this year​, organisations around the world have continued to underline that enough is not being done​.

Therefore, this report said it highlighted the need to understand the power of using advertising and placement together in terms of managerial implications. The use of combined tools as well as diverse media should also be considered while looking in to the effects of brand placement and advertisement on children.

The combined use of different tools and diverse media should be considered as relevant in increasing the effect in the audience. This should include not only element of the content of the executions, but also considerations of an adequate use of the mass media​,” added the researchers.

However, the findings emphasised the need of developing debate on how to regulate the different forms of promotion rather than restricting or banning advertising altogether. The team added that there was a need for further studies in the area and that further research should examine lesser-known or even unknown brands to minimise the effect of prior brand knowledge.

Although using the McDonald’s brand allowed researchers to use a real film and a brand that combined advertising and placement, “it is important to broaden the results of this study with brand with different levels of recall and reputation​,” they said.

The study

The study examined the effect of unhealthy food brand placement on children across age groups 9, 12 and 15 years. Results showed that both brand awareness and behavioural disposition towards junk food (wanting to eat junk food) increased among children who were exposed to the marketing technique in comparison with the control group.

Age played a part in the effects of the separate and joint use of placement on children. Older groups (12–15) performed better in brand awareness, but scored lower in wanting to eat junk food than the 9-year-old group, said the team.

This result supports what literature has proposed in terms of that the defences against commercial attempts are actually present at the age of 12. Although the child’s understanding of the technique is not fully established at 12, it is strong enough to mediate the effect of commercial messages.​”

Study: Appetite

Published 31 March 2015, doi:10.1016/j.appet.2015.03.030

“The effects of TV unhealthy food brand placement on children. Its separate and joint effect with advertising”

Authors: R. Uribe and A. Fuentes-Garcíab


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