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 misleads children to primarily associate non-food items with specific fast-food restaurant brands. This study will utilize a cross-sectional experimental qualitative design, through which 100 children ages 3 to 8 will be recruited to a laboratory setting where their responses to a series of visual prompts will be recorded. Investigators will query participants’ perceptions of four randomly selected television ads; two will be kids’ meal ads and two will be adult meal ads, taken from a sample of McDonald’s and Burger King ads that aired on national television in 2009-10. Children will first view the television ad, and will be asked to describe the ad narrative. They will also be asked about their perceptions of four images with high food salience drawn from each ad.
Studying How Children Themselves Perceive Advertising on Television for Kids Meals
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
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.