Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Not Buying It: Messages to Junk Food Marketers

Super thanks to my friend Kim for sending me the link to the Prevention Institute's "Not Buying It" petition to protest the marketing of junk food to kids. We all know that marketers will say whatever they need to say to sell their message. I know it because I've worked as marketer for years and I know how many hours I've spent trying to come up with the catchy message that is going to convince my audience to buy what I've got. There are good causes and bad, and marketers who work for all of them. It's our job as parents and adults to figure out which ones are telling us the truth.

We can all remember sitting in front of the television on Saturday mornings watching commercials for toys, ThunderCats, and nutritious breakfast cereal!

What we likely don't remember is how fast our brains were aborbing those messages about the role of food in our lives. I know I personally considered myself to be abused and neglected by my mean, uncaring mother because she never bought Lucky Charms or Froot Loops, instead forcing my sister and me to to eat Cheerios or Rice Chex. Of course, I later went on to eat a dinner of Cocoa Puffs for an entire semester in college just out of spite.  I'm pretty sure I was not the winner of that little battle.

Anyway, marketing junk food to kids is nothing new, it's just become a bigger problem. Our rapidly rising obesity rate alone makes the issue more urgent, and the huge increase in marketing channels makes monitoring the different ways that kids are advertised to an overwhelming task for parents. Junk food companies sponsor school programs, pose as non-profit organizations, and develop video games based on the characters that they created to market their product. And, they make their packages very, very tricky to decipher.

Luckily, there are more and more resources out there to help. The Prevention Institute's website offers tips, tools, and information for parents who want to make their Saturday mornings (and the other ones too) healthier for their families. Check out their informative online publications, and study up on the opposition: the companies that have your kid in their marketing crossfire.

Companies have every right to market their products, but we also have the right to reject them. The Prevention Institute wants the government to have stricter regulations on what companies can do and say to send their messages. I've signed the petition and support their cause, but it doesn't look that that will happen anytime soon, so I encourage you not to wait. Start making change happen now by NOT BUYING IT.

Get out there and get healthy by getting SMART about food and what those colorful boxes placed at kid-eye level are really saying!  

1 comment:

Ellen said...

Perhaps this backsliding by the administration explains why I still see adds for "corn sugar" (read: High Fructose Corn Syrup) on TV. I'd thought that these ads were supposed to go away because they were deemed to be misleading.