Fast-food marketing aimed at children emphasizes giveaways and movie tie-ins much more frequently than ads targeted at adults, according to research published August 28 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by James Sargent and colleagues from the Geisel School of Medicine, Dartmouth.
The researchers compared ads from fast food companies on children's TV channels such as Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network to those aired for adults. Ads targeted at children emphasized food packaging and street views of the restaurants, whereas adult ads emphasized the images of the food sold there. Nearly 70 percent of children's advertisements included toy giveaways, whereas only 1 percent of ads for adults mentioned giveaways. Audio scripts for adult advertisements emphasized food taste, price and portion size, whereas the children's ads focused on movie tie-ins and free toys.
Previous studies have shown that associating fast food with animated characters can enhance children's perceived food tastes and preference, and exposure to advertising is associated with higher consumption of fast food by children. Marketing guidelines from the Better Business Bureau state that food should be the focus of advertising to children, and foods and meal combinations being advertised should meet certain nutritional criteria.
The study concludes, "Given health concerns about obesity and its relation to fast food consumption, enhanced oversight of fast-food marketing to children at the local, state and federal level is needed to align advertising to children with health promotion efforts and existing principles of honest and fair marketing to children."
Citation: Bernhardt AM, Wilking C, Adachi-Mejia AM, Bergamini E, Marijnissen J, et al. (2013) How Television Fast Food Marketing Aimed at Children Compares with Adult Advertisements. PLoS ONE 8(8): e72479. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0072479
Financial Disclosure: This work was supported by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Award 69552 (http://www.rwjf.org) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) 3R01CA077026-12S1 (NIH.gov). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Competing Interest Statement: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
PLEASE LINK TO THE SCIENTIFIC ARTICLE IN ONLINE VERSIONS OF YOUR REPORT (URL goes live after the embargo ends): http://dx.
Disclaimer: This press release refers to upcoming articles in PLOS ONE. The releases have been provided by the article authors and/or journal staff. Any opinions expressed in these are the personal views of the contributors, and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of PLOS. PLOS expressly disclaims any and all warranties and liability in connection with the information found in the release and article and your use of such information.
About PLOS ONE: PLOS ONE is the first journal of primary research from all areas of science to employ a combination of peer review and post-publication rating and commenting, to maximize the impact of every report it publishes. PLOS ONE is published by the Public Library of Science (PLOS), the open-access publisher whose goal is to make the world's scientific and medical literature a public resource.
All works published in PLOS ONE are Open Access. Everything is immediately available-to read, download, redistribute, include in databases and otherwise use-without cost to anyone, anywhere, subject only to the condition that the original authors and source are properly attributed. For more information about PLOS ONE relevant to journalists, bloggers and press officers, including details of our press release process and our embargo policy, see the everyONE blog at http://everyone.