Nestle has put the finishing touches on its pledge as part of the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, and it includes not advertising WONKA brand candies in shows primarily targetted to kids under 12.
Nestle joined 13 other companies back in July (it is now 15 with the addition of Dannon) who, under pressure from Washington as well as in recognition of the growing obesity problem, agreed to take steps to limit the marketing of snack foods to kids and to promote healthier diets, including making their own foods healthier, as well as encouraging more exercise.
Nestle becomes the fourth confectioner in that group to pledge not to advertise to kids under 12. The others are Mars, Hershey and Cadbury. The coalition also includes most of the major food companies, including Kraft, Campbell, Kellogg, General Mills, Unilever and fast food shops McDonalds and Burger King.
Each company tailors their own pledge, but the initiatives key baseline is that at least 50% of ads targeted primarily to kids is for "better-for-you foods according to established health guidelines or include healthy lifestyle messaging."
FCC Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate gave a shout-out to the company. "I applaud Nestlé for this strong commitment to our children’s health and encourage all companies to join the [initiative]."
According to Tate, Nestle also said that the ads it does air in kids shows will be confined to products with dietary limits, including low-fat milk, powdered drinks with lower shugar, and frozen deserts at 100 calories or less.
Per the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative guidelines, the company will also restrict the use of licensed characters, agree not to advertise in schools, agree not to do any product placement in media targeted to kids under 12 and limit depictions of food in online gaming to those that meet nutritional criteria.
The initiative was launched in July 2007 at a Federal Trade Commission hearing on food marketing to kids and childhood obesity, a growing national health problem.
Back in June, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), chairman of the House Telecommunications Subcommittee, called on the company to join the then-13 members (Dannon has joined since then) of the initiative, saying that the absence of one of the world's biggest food companies from the U.S. self-regulatory effort "raises the question of whether voluntary industry action will be sufficient to address food marketing to children."
Nestle joined in July, in advance of an FTC and BBB progress report on self-regulatory efforts and in the wake of Markey's call for action.
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.