This article assesses the nutritional quality of foods that are advertised with familiar children’s characters. It also examines how frequently familiar characters are paired with health messages in these advertisement. A total of 577 food advertisements that were aired on the most popular broadcast and cable channels during 2011 were included in the study. Researchers found that familiar characters were used in 73 percent of food ads targeting children. Trade characters–live or animated figures originally created as part of an advertising campaign that consistently appear in ad campaigns–appeared in more than half of the sampled ads (56%), whereas licensed characters–live or animated figures originally created for entertainment purposes–were found in roughly one of every six ads (17%). Familiar characters were used most frequent in ads for sugared cereals (88%) and restaurants/fast foods (78%). Although the majority (72%) of the ads promoted foods of low nutritional quality, more than half (53%) included a health-related marketing message.
Healthy Characters? An Investigation of Marketing Practices in Children’s Food Advertising
Televised food advertising to children has long been dominated by low-nutrient, high-calorie products. In response to public and policy-maker concern, 16 of the nation’s largest food conglomerates participate in a self-regulatory initiative in an effort to improve the nutritional quality of foods advertised to children, known as the Children’s Food … More
The healthfulness of foods and beverages found in retail food stores differs widely across the United States, both by location of the store as well as by store type. Some communities have limited access to stores that carry healthful staple foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grain-rich foods, and … More
Children and adolescents see between 4,500 and 6,000 food ads on TV each year, the majority of which are for products high in sugar and fat and low in essential nutrients. In April 2011, a coalition of federal authorities known as the Interagency Working Group on Foods Marketed to Children … More