Have you seen this advertisement? First thing to note is that it features two children and centres around a game they play in order to eat Oreo cookies. There are no adults present and the voiceover at the end tells us that the cookies are “double the cream and double the fun.”
It’s fun, cute and designed to highlight Oreo cookies. What it officially doesn’t do is break any rules on advertising to children. Here’s why:
- Despite the fact that the story involves a game and the only conversation occurs between children, the ‘language’ of the voiceover and the ‘theme and visuals’ are considered to be adult.
- By using three biscuits, the advertisement suggests the biscuit would best be consumed as a treat after school.
- The game-like interaction between the siblings does not encourage over consumption of the cookies.
The advertisement is focused around children and the games they play. It appeared during family-oriented programs like Dancing with the Stars, children’s film Penelope and Australia’s Got Talent. Nevertheless, this type of food marketing doesn’t break the rules.
I guess the question is why should people worry about this? And why should people with diabetes care? To which our response is: everyone should care.
Obesity is a growing problem for this country. Healthy environments are crucial in the battle against this epidemic and industry needs to play its part.
The advertising industry spends billions each year on advertising, and it’s not just oriented towards your television screens. We’re talking social media, apps, billboards, sponsorship of kids’ sporting programs and even the sponsorship of professional codes. It’s pretty encompassing.
And who regulates this? The answer is that the food and advertising industries regulate themselves. And yes, a phrase involving foxes and hen houses come to mind. Between them, there are four different codes looking at marketing to children and complaints are heard by another self-regulating body, the Advertising Standards Board.
It’s not working. As recently as December 2011, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) said it’s unclear whether the level of children’s exposure to junk food advertising has reduced.
It means ads like this one for Oreo cookies continue to screen when many children are watching television, and similar companies can continue to advertise in a way that appeals to children. But there is something you can do.
Each year, we here at The Parents’ Jury put a spotlight on the food industry. You can take two minutes out and use your voice to say you’ve had enough of marketing tricks and techniques. We name and shame those companies who are playing these tricks (as well as highlighting companies who highlight healthy foods) and put the spotlight on them.
To conclude, I’d like to hand over to one of our members who recently wrote about why she votes in the awards:
“My friends and I often complain to each other about the underhanded marketing tactics that drive our children to pester us for a particular cereal or popular snack bar. But how often do we have the energy to research who to contact to say we don’t like it? And let’s be honest, how much of an impact will an individual complaint have?
“This is why the awards are so important to me. Not only are they the collective voice of thousands of parents from across Australia telling these companies that we don’t agree with how they target our children, but the awards play advertisers at their own game. They put the spotlight on the sneaky tactics used by these companies and get the topic of junk food marketing to children discussed in the media.”
Corrina Langelaan is the Campaigns Manager of The Parents’ Jury. The opinions and thoughts expressed in this blog are her own.
The Parents’ Jury is an online network of parents, grandparents and guardians, who are interested in improving the food and physical activity environments of Australian children.
The Parents’ Jury is supported by Diabetes Australia – Vic.