This article compares quick-service restaurant (QSR) television advertisements for children’s meals with adult advertisements from the same company to assess whether companies were complying with their self-regulatory pledges. Researchers coded nationally televised advertisements for visual and audio assessments of branding, toy premiums, movie tie-ins, and depictions of food. They found that almost all of the QSR children’s meal advertisements were attributable to McDonald’s (70%) or Burger King (29%). Four children’s television channels—Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Disney XD, and Nicktoons—aired 79 percent of the advertisements aimed at children. Toy premiums were present in 69 percent of advertisements aimed at children, compared with 1 percent in adult advertisements, and movie tie-ins were present in 55 percent of children’s advertisements, compared with 14 percent in adult advertisements. Advertisements aimed at children also were more likely to include visual branding. Images of food packaging were present in 88 percent of advertisements aimed at children, compared with 23 percent of advertisements targeting adults.
How Television Fast Food Marketing Aimed at Children Compares with Adult Advertisements
Children’s Recall of Fast Food Television Advertising—Testing the Adequacy of Food Marketing Regulation
There is increasing concern that food advertising shapes the way children eat and contributes to childhood obesity. The fast food companies McDonald’s and Burger King participate in industry self-regulation, pledging to not engage in deceptive marketing and to market foods and beverages that meet certain nutritional criteria in children’s advertising. … More
This paper examines how young children interpret depictions of healthy foods (milk and apples) in television advertisements by McDonalds’s and Burger King aired from July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011. A sample of 99 children ages 3 to 7 were shown two still images drawn from advertisements for healthy … More
Fast-food companies emphasize toy giveaways and movie tie-ins when marketing to kids on television, which suggests the industry is not abiding by its own pledges regarding child-directed marketing. Learn more about fast-food marketing and share the infographic below with others.
Some legal scholars suggest that kids’ meal advertising constitutes false advertising because of its emphasis on toy premiums and movie tie-ins rather than food. Yet no one has assessed how the target population perceives such advertising. This study examines whether the emphasis on toy premiums and tie-ins in such ads … More