The International Food & Beverage Alliance (IFBA) which comprises top brands such as Mondelez (Oreo), Nestlé, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Kellogg’s, Mars, Unilever and Ferrero recently took a global pledge to stop advertising and promotional activities targeted towards kids below 12 years of age. Representatives of the eleven member companies signed on a letter delivered to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Dr Chan, which outlined a set of enhanced global commitments with regards to health and wellness strategies they expect to follow in the coming years.
Under the new policy, which is an extension of the commitments made by IFBA members in 2008, responsible advertising and marketing towards children will cover outdoor, mobile and SMS marketing, interactive gaming, DVD/CD-ROM, direct marketing, cinema and product placement other than TV, print and the internet. Though many of these brands already adhere to these guidelines on mainstream media such as television and print, they will now restrict themselves from targeting kids on below-the-line advertising activities that include tie-ups with cartoon characters or joint promotions at events targeted at kids.
According to a source from Mondelez India, the company has been conforming to all the IFBA commitments, which had been set in 2008, however the new IFBA guidelines will be under review by the Indian counterpart and complied with. The source further added that it would take some time before these guidelines have any impact on the market as the set deadline of December 2016 is quite far away.
Currently, some of these brands have products in India that are targeted towards children and advertise on kids’ channels. According to a report in the Economic Times, there are certain brands such as Mondelez’s Oreo biscuits and Nestlé’s Maggie noodles and pasta that use children in their ads and run other promotions targeting them.
So will this affect the revenues of television channels, especially the kids’ genre channels? According to media planner Shekhar Banerjee, SVP & Head, Madison Media – Pinnacle, many of these brands already adhere to strict internal guidelines. “Most of the advertisers already have stringent global policies when it comes to marketing to kids. (These) things are already in practice. Even kids channels will not see much of an implication as pester power also influences purchase of other household products, for which they may or may not be direct consumers. Just that the channels will have to synergise their efforts on different set of advertisers and categories.”
Commenting on this Nina Elavia Jaipuria, EVP & Business Head, Kids Cluster, Viacom18 said, “As responsible broadcasters, we at Nickelodeon always make a conscientious effort to create content and brand partnerships which are relevant, appealing and at the same time, safe for our young viewers. We believe in creating a conducive and entertaining environment for kids through all our touch points. With regards to IFBA’s global pledge, we are already in compliance with our advertising partners who have taken the pledge.”
However, the IFBA guidelines allow these brands to use licensing characters, movie tie-ins and celebrities for communication directed at children below 12 years only for products meeting “specific nutrition” criteria. The new guidelines do not specify the nutrition criteria, giving enough space for brands to still target children below 12 years of age.