Yesterday, leading companies in the EU (read: major corporate conglomerates) said that by the end of 2008, they would change their policy on advertising junk food and drink during TV shows that are geared towards children under 12. And they did this voluntarily! Well, maybe not completely voluntarily. They may have been trying to avoid a financial penalty if they didn’t comply. So, no more food and drink advertising on TV, in print media or on the web in the EU where there is a chance that kids under 12 could be a target audience. Pretty interesting, huh?
Even more interesting is the list of companies voluntarilydoing this: Coca-Cola, Groupe Danone, Burger King, General Mills, Kellogg, Kraft Foods, Mars, NestlÃ©, PepsiCo, Ferrero and Unilever. Do these companies sound familiar to you? Yes, they are the same companies that run the processed and crappy food/beverage world here in the good ‘ole US of A. Are they making this same promise to us? Isn’t one of the reasons we have a major obesity problem in the USA is because of the way these companies have so touchingly created this image of how a happy and fun family and kid is supposed to be when they eat or drink one of their magical, processed and high-calorie/fat drink or meal? How happy and fun did it look when those kids on the commercials walked into Mickey-D’s or Burger King? Did you LONG for a “happy” meal (yes, it’s called a happy meal b/c it will make you HAPPY – get it!?) when you saw those ecstatic children playing with their Happy Meal toys? I want a plastic Elliot and ET riding on a bike together!! Advertising, to me, is the lowest and cheesiest form of dumbing us down. And we buy it. We give in to it. So, if people aren’t going to change, can’t these stupid corporate companies just do something to help this major issue we are facing in America? I understand that they probably aren’t going to stop producing this shit, but can’t they just stop advertising it to us?
Again, I feel very passionate about this issue because I work with alot of the kids they specifically are geared towards – the ones without alot of disposable income. The kids whose parents have to work 4 jobs just to make ends meet and barely have enough time to cook dinner for their children. The kids whose parents aren’t even home at dinner time, leaving only a few bucks or some quarters for their kids to buy lunch or dinner that day. What other choice are these kids going to have when it’s too easy and cheap to go down the street to a fast food place or pop one of the processed meals in the microwave?
The obesity rate in parts of the EU is rising, especially with kids. As of 2003, nearly 1/3 of all Europeans were obese. THEY seem to want to take control of this issue. We all know the last thing the French would want to do is become like the Americans. And I don’t blame them one bit at all. In 2006, the Council of Better Business Bureaus and the National Advertising Review Council established the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative. Similar corporate conglomerates joined this ‘initiative’ to limit the number of ads as well as ‘shift the focus of advertising messages and encourage healthier choices and a healthier lifestyle.” Do you notice a difference in the language used to describe these two different ideas – one is a ‘policy and ban’ (EU) and the other is an ‘initiative to change’ (USA). Makes me scratch my head in wonder and disbelief.
I’m not saying that people do not have free will to make their own choices and decisions. They do. But I once worked in the marketing and advertising field and I understand how it works. And, yes, it does work. How many times did you go out and buy something after you saw an ad for it on TV? I just think we need to end the ridiculous amount of advertising of these high calorie/high fat foods and drink towards impressionable people. That’s it. Any thoughts?