This paper examines the influence of cartoon brand mascots and media characters on diet-related cognitive, behavioral, and health outcomes for children ages 2 to 11 through a review of 11 experimental studies published between 2004 and 2014. Researchers categorized results into outcomes such as character or brand recognition, taste or snack preference, food choice, and food or product intake. Studies that measured recognition of popular characters found a high recognition ranging from 60 percent to 90 percent. Results suggest that cartoon media character branding can positively increase children’s fruit or vegetable intake compared with no character branding. However, familiar media character branding is a more powerful influence on children’s food preferences, choice, and intake, especially for unhealthy foods compared with fruits and vegetables. The authors suggest that future research should use a theory-grounded conceptual model and larger and more diverse samples of children to produce stronger findings; and such research could be used to inform stakeholder discussions for using media marketing to support healthy food environments for children.
Influence of Food Companies’ Brand Mascots and Entertainment Companies’ Cartoon Media Characters on Children’s Diet and Health: A Systematic Review and Research Needs
The Use of Brand Mascots and Media Characters: Opportunities for Responsible Food Marketing to Children
This issue brief examines the evidence on how food, beverage, restaurant, and entertainment companies have used brand mascots and cartoon media characters to influence children’s diet and health. Brand mascots and media characters represent a broad range of human or fictional kid-friendly animals or animated objects used by companies to … More
An Accountability Evaluation for the Industry’s Responsible Use of Brand Mascots and Licensed Media Characters to Market a Healthy Diet to American Children
This study explored diverse stakeholders’ accountability expectations and actions for industry policies and practices that used cartoon brand mascots and media characters to market foods and beverages to American children. A companion paper examined how media characters may influence diet-related outcomes for children younger than 12 years. Investigators used a … 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