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. This study gauged the net impression of children ages 3 to 7 to children’s and adult advertisements from McDonald’s and Burger King. One hundred children viewed televised advertising for McDonald’s and Burger King children’s and adult meals, randomly drawn from ads that aired on U.S. television between July 2010 and June 2011. Immediately after seeing each ad, the children were asked to recall what they had seen, and their responses were evaluated for descriptors of food, healthy food, and premiums/tie-ins (e.g., toys). For both restaurants, participants were significantly less likely to recall food after viewing children’s ads compared to after viewing adult ads; and when participants did recall food items from children’s ads, they rarely recalled healthy options. The researchers conclude that there was an under-emphasis of food in children’s ads, and, while each children’s ad featured apples and milk, the companies failed to place appropriate emphasis on the healthy foods they advertised.
Children’s Recall of Fast Food Television Advertising—Testing the Adequacy of Food Marketing Regulation
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
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 … 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