Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative Promotes Nutritious Choices and Healthier Lifestyles to Kids

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) today sent a letter to Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) William E. Kovacic as follow-up to the Georgetown Economic Services ("GES") September 22, 2008 report on advertising food and beverages to children, "Food, Beverage and Restaurant Advertising in 2007 - Children's Impressions and Expenditures on Children's Programs".

According to the latest data available from Nielsen Media Research for the year 2007, GES has found that the fifteen participants of the Council of Better Business Bureaus' Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative accounted for over 80 percent of the food, beverage and restaurant commercials that children between the ages of two and eleven saw on children's television programming that year.

"The food and beverage industry has been working with policymakers, non-governmental organizations, parents, advertisers and other stakeholders in recent years to restructure its marketing practices to promote nutritious choices and promote a healthier lifestyle," said GMA President and CEO Pam Bailey. "While there is more work to be done, this updated data showcases the fact that industry's commitment, combined with voluntary marketing changes, is having a significant impact."

"Combating childhood obesity is an urgent national priority that requires the unqualified and unified support of the marketing community," stated Robert Liodice, president and CEO of the Association of National Advertisers. "Leveraging the self regulatory framework of the Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, marketers found a common strategic approach that marries the interests of all relevant constituencies. The advertising community pledges its continued support and will work to expand the strength and momentum of this program-which is now embraced by much of the international community."

The Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative was launched in November 2006 by the Council of Better Business Bureaus to provide companies that advertise foods and beverages to children with a transparent and accountable advertising self-regulation mechanism. The Initiative is aimed at shifting the mix of advertising messaging directed to children under 12 to encourage healthier dietary choices and healthy lifestyles.

Under the terms of the Initiative, participating companies agreed to devote at least 50 percent their advertising directed to children under 12 to promote healthier dietary choices and/or to messages that encourage good nutrition or healthy lifestyles. Healthier-product pledges must be consistent with established scientific and/or government standards, including USDA Dietary Guidelines and MyPyramid, and FDA standards for health claims. Each company prepares a Pledge that describes its commitment. This document must be approved by the Initiative staff. The Pledges are available for public viewing on the BBB web site after they have been approved.

Current participants include: Burger King Corp.; Cadbury Adams, USA, LLC; Campbell Soup Company; The Coca-Cola Company; ConAgra Foods, Inc.; The Dannon Company; General Mills, Inc.; The Hershey Company; Kellogg Company; Kraft Foods Inc.; Mars, Inc.; McDonald's USA; Nestlé USA; PepsiCo, Inc.; Unilever United States.