Junk Food Marketing Guidelines Reference Advergaming

ron burgler.jpgThe pledge this week by McDonald’s, General Mills, Hershey, Coca-Cola and other food companies to restrict their marketing of junk food to children will have a few implications for the Web .

Regarding the use of interactive games, the guidelines say food marketers should “limit products shown in interactive games to healthy dietary choices, or incorporate healthy lifestyle messages in the games.” A second rule dictates that “if an advertiser integrates a commercial message into the content of a game or activity, then the advertiser should make clear, in a manner that will be easily understood by the targeted audience, that it is an advertisement.” My first take on the second rule is that it’s a virtually meaningless gesture, since the “targeted audience” referred to is children under 12 who often can’t distinguish between content and advertising anyway.

There’s a larger debate raging about whether the food industry’s pledge is meaningful, since the marketers in question declined to identify specific ways their marketing tactics would change — not to mention that the notion of bringing about change through ad regulation is a bit of a sleight of hand when the food items most directly responsible for record rates of youth diabetes and obesity remain the same. But I’m not the blame business type, so I’ll just do my part by urging any little kiddies out there reading the ClickZ Marketing Blog to think twice before you eat that next antibiotic-laced HappyBurger or morning bowl of Technicolored Sugarchunks.

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