ANA Argues That IWG Proposal on Food Marketing to Children Is Radical and Seriously Flawed

October 12, 2011 - Washington, DC - The ANA (Association of National Advertisers) told Congress today that the food marketing proposal released by the Interagency Working Group (IWG) on April 28 is "radical, seriously flawed, could be economically disastrous and should be formally withdrawn."

Dan Jaffe, ANA Executive Vice President, testified at a hearing today before two important subcommittees of the House Energy & Commerce Committee. He stated: "The IWG in effect is attempting to re-engineer the American diet by declaring war on many healthy products, including whole wheat bread, 2 percent milk, oatmeal, most soups, cereals, and thousands of others."

Jaffe emphasized: "The nutrition and marketing standards in the IWG proposal go far beyond any ever considered by any government agency.  Of the 100 most popular foods consumed in America, only 12 could be advertised under their standards. That's clearly radical and misguided."

ANA's testimony noted: "The advertising community, the media community and food, beverage and restaurant companies already have voluntarily spent billions of dollars in various efforts to address the childhood obesity challenge. These steps substantially exceed the efforts of any other sector of our society, including the government."

Jaffe stated: "The IWG seems to have a split personality when it comes to nutrition standards. The IWG proposal is inconsistent with several other federal standards for nutrition. Foods that are considered healthy under the Department of Agriculture's Dietary Guidelines For America issued just last year are considered unhealthy under the IWG proposal. Oatmeal, rice and other products that are included under the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) program would be excluded under the IWG guidelines. This defies common sense." 

Jaffe noted: "Foods that meet the federal government's stringent criteria for being labeled 'healthy' should be advertised more, rather than not being advertised at all as the IWG proposal would require."     

Jaffe pointed out: "The IWG proposal could be economically disastrous and send shockwaves into our economy.  The noted economic firm IHS Global Insights estimates that the guidelines could drive down food and beverage expenditures by 20 percent. That would result in a decrease in total annual sales of $28.3 billion and the elimination of 74,000 jobs in 2011. From 2011 through 2015, the cumulative lost sales would be $152 billion and the cumulative lost jobs would be 378,000. Given the current economic crisis facing our country, we simply cannot afford the bloated price tag of the IWG proposal."    

Jaffe stated: "The IWG proposal includes an extremely broad definition of marketing, including packaging, point-of-purchase displays, sponsorship of events and sports teams, even philanthropic activities tied to branded products. This definition goes far beyond marketing directed to children to encompass ads for healthy food products that are directed to adults. Such an approach clearly violates the First Amendment."

Jaffe concluded: "While this proposal is falsely labeled as 'voluntary,' it is clearly an effort by four powerful government agencies to suppress advertising about a very broad range of healthy food products. Worst of all, there is absolutely no proof that these massive changes, if carried out, would have any real impact on childhood obesity rates. We believe the IWG should formally withdraw this proposal and develop real solutions that will work, rather than stigmatizing healthy foods and legitimate, truthful marketing practices."

ANA's written statement is available here.

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About the ANA

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.