Published: November 2013

ID #: 68242

Journal: J Nutr Educ Behav

Authors: Castonguay J, Kunkel D, Wright P, Duff C

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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.

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