16 sign up to AFGC’s Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 17th June 2009

Sixteen major food and beverage manufacturers have now signed up to the Australian Food and Grocery Council’s Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative, as the AFGC announced full details of the compliance program.
The companies have publicly committed not to advertise to children aged under 12, unless the product promotes healthy dietary choices and a healthy lifestyle consistent with scientific standards.

AFGC Chief Executive Kate Carnell said the initiative, which came into effect at the start of the year, is underpinned by a rigorous and transparent compliance program with complaints administered by the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB). The George Institute for International Health, a research institute focused on chronic disease, would assist in arbitrating issues surrounding the compliance of the advertisement with the Company Action Plans put forward by the participating food companies.

The complaints process follows similar guidelines to those for other Codes administered by the ASB:

* All complaints about ads must be submitted in writing to the ASB – this can be done online at www.adstandards.com.au
* Complaints about different ads must be submitted separately and must include sufficient details to allow for identification of the ad in question.

Information required specifically for complaints under the Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative includes the complainants’ dissatisfaction with the healthy food choice, the marketing approach or product placement of the ad.

“So far, there have not been any formal complaints from the public,” Ms Carnell advised.

On receipt of a complaint, the ASB will forward it to either, or both, the Advertising Standards Board and The George Institute for consideration.

ASB Chief Executive Fiona Jolly said the Advertising Standards Board would adjudicate on whether a program and advertisement subject to a complaint was aimed at children under 12 as stipulated in the initiative.

Ms Carnell added that the AFGC had been closely monitoring the initiative to ensure it achieves its objective of healthy eating messages being reflected in advertising during children’s programming.

“Many of the signatories are multi-national food manufacturers who follow different international standards,” she noted. “But these standards must be based on recognised scientific standards in order for the companies to qualify for the scheme.”

The George Institute’s Senior Director, Professor Bruce Neal, said the Institute would assess a company’s advertised products against their nominated Company Action Plans – including the declared nutritional guidelines – and “provide an independent assessment” as to whether they were living up to their commitment.