Fast-food companies pledge responsible advertising to children

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 25th June 2009

A new advertising to children initiative released today by Australia’s major quick service restaurants has been applauded by Australia’s leading organisation representing food and grocery manufacturers, the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC).

Seven companies have signed up to the Australian Quick Service Restaurant Industry Initiative for Responsible Advertising and Marketing to Children, modelled on the AFGC’s Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative, which came into effect on January 1 this year. The companies – McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, Hungry Jack’s, Oporto, Red Rooster and Chicken Treat – have also committed to adopt on-pack nutrition labelling and to display nutritional information clearly on the their websites.

Sixteen leading food and beverage manufacturers have already signed up to AFGC’s initiative – including Nestle Australia, Coca Cola, Pepsico Australia, Sanitarium and Campbell Arnott’s – with the companies pledging to not advertise to children aged 12 and under, unless they are promoting healthy dietary choices and a healthy lifestyle consistent with scientific standards. The fast-food firms have made a similar commitment, with only healthier choices to be promoted to children under 14.

AFGC Chief Executive Kate Carnell welcomed the announcement, which highlighted the food industry’s commitment to only advertise healthy choices to children.

“This shows that the quick service restaurant industry and AFGC have taken the concerns of the community seriously about advertising to children and proactively done something about it,” Ms Carnell said. “This is another example of the value of an industry code and highlights the food industry’s responsible commitment to marketing healthy choices to children.”

Scott McClellan, CEO of the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) which worked with the fast-food sector to determine the details of the initiative, was pleased with the early support from quick service restaurants.

“The Initiative builds on the existing self-regulatory measures in place to help ensure advertisers maintain a high level of social responsibility in marketing to children in Australia,” he advised. “An independent third party will also act as a monitor and will be conducting regular reviews to ensure all participating companies are complying with the commitments made in their action plans.”

The Initiative will come into effect from 1 August 2009, and all participating companies will be releasing individual company action plans on their websites that will be available for the public to review.