Dan Jaffe statement at the Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children Public Forum

May 24, 2011 - Washington, D.C. - Dan Jaffe, ANA's Executive Vice President, Government Relations, will be giving an oral statement, posted below, at today's Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children Public Forum. The IWG, made up of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), released proposed guidelines on food marketing to children on April 28, 2011. The proposal can be viewed at http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2011/04/foodmarket.shtm.

Statement of Dan Jaffe
Executive Vice President, Government Relations
Association of National Advertisers
Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children Public Forum

Thank you for this opportunity to speak here today. I represent the ANA (Association of National Advertisers), whose members carry out more than $250 billion worth of advertising and marketing in the US annually. Many of our members will be substantially impacted by the IWG principles.

A three minute oral statement cannot even scratch the surface let alone provide a careful review of the IWG proposal.

Nevertheless there are some clear conclusions that can be drawn:

  • First: If these stringent marketing and advertising proposals were "voluntarily" accepted by the food, beverage, restaurant and media communities, the cost would be multibillions of dollars in non-market driven reformulations and the suppression of virtually unprecedented amounts of advertising to those 17 years old or younger. It also would sweep under its coverage substantial numbers of programs directed overwhelmingly to adults.
  • Second: Most disturbingly, the IWG report provides virtually no evidence that these proposals, if fully complied with, would provide any positive impact on obesity rates in the US.
  • Third: It is severely misguided to apply these marketing and advertising restrictions to minors 17 years old or younger. It is totally unjustifiable to treat 17 year olds as if they were seven. Many 17 year olds are allowed to drive by themselves and stand at the threshold of being able to vote, marry and go into the military. It takes extraordinary analytic contortions to state that teenagers are incapable of dealing with food advertising but can handle all of these other formidable societal responsibilities.
  • Fourth: The proposed IWG definitions of marketing, promotion and advertising "directed to children" are breathtakingly overbroad. They threaten to suppress an enormous amount of traditional marketing activity, including a wide range of long- standing corporate icons, the sponsorship of many Little League teams and other sporting events, and many charitable activities by food, beverage and restaurant companies. It is extraordinary that these proposals treat advertising as "directed to children" even where 80 percent of the targeted audience is made up of adults.
  • Fifth: The claim that these proposals are "voluntary" clearly should be found to violate truth in labeling laws. These four powerful agencies that have put forward this proposal have sweeping oversight of the food, beverage and restaurant industries. The proposals themselves are extremely complex, detailed, and restrictive. They cover virtually every food category, every medium of marketing and advertising, and they become dramatically more restrictive over time. Can anyone doubt that these proposals are not "voluntary" but thinly veiled governmental commands? This is a classic case of backdoor regulation utilizing these so-called "principles" as a veritable Sword of Damocles to hang over the head of industry while avoiding the requirements of scientific or cost-benefit analysis that any regulation or rule would require.
  • Sixth: The IWG has completely failed to carry out the careful "study" of these issues that was mandated by the Congress. The existing proposal utilizes data from 2006 that totally ignores the enormous changes in the marketplace. It fails to examine, for example, a recent study carried out by the Georgetown Economic Services for the ANA and GMA using 2010 Nielsen data that demonstrates food and beverage advertising directed to kids on the broadcast media has dropped by more than 50 percent since 2004 and that in categories such as cookies and soft drinks, it has dropped by more than 80 percent. In addition, due to the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), more than two thirds of the remaining advertising of foods and beverages directed to children under 12 is for healthier or better for you offerings.

Therefore, ANA urges the four agencies to withdraw this proposal until they have carried out the careful study that the Congress required. The ad community stands ready to work actively to assist in this effort.

Thank you again for providing us this opportunity to express our views.

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The mission of the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) is to drive growth for marketing professionals, brands and businesses, the industry, and humanity. The ANA serves the marketing needs of 20,000 brands by leveraging the 12-point ANA Growth Agenda, which has been endorsed by the Global CMO Growth Council. The ANA’s membership consists of U.S. and international companies, including client-side marketers, nonprofits, fundraisers, and marketing solutions providers (data science and technology companies, ad agencies, publishers, media companies, suppliers, and vendors). The ANA creates Marketing Growth Champions by serving, educating, and advocating for more than 50,000 industry members that collectively invest more than $400 billion in marketing and advertising annually.