This statement was issued today by The Parents Jury, an online network of over 4,700 parents, grandparents and guardians, who are interested in improving the food and physical activity environments of Australian children. The Parents Jury is supported by Cancer Council Australia, Diabetes Australia Vic and QLD, the Australian and New Zealand Obesity Society, VicHealth and YMCA Victoria.

Kellogg’s shamed fourth year running for Australia’s worst junk food ads

Kellogg’s today received some tough news to swallow as it was named as having one of Australia’s worst junk food marketing campaigns to target children, for the fourth year running.

Parents from around the country voted the distasteful campaign for LCMs snack bars winner of the ‘Pester Power’ category, in the sixth annual Parents Jury Fame & Shame Awards held in Sydney.

And, in a further blow to Kellogg’s, parents also crowned the giant food manufacturer’s ads for Nutri-Grain as the king of ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ advertising, for promoting the sugary cereal as being good for young boys who want to become iron men.

“Year after year we see the same usual suspects ignoring parents’ concerns and peddling their junk food products to children, using highly influential marketing campaigns backed with massive budgets,” Karen Sims, Manager of The Parents Jury said.

Member of The Parents Jury, and mother of two Kathryn Taylor is fed up with her kids being bombarded with ads for unhealthy food.

“It’s easy to shift the blame to parents for Australia’s obesity epidemic, but our kids are targets for junk foods ads everywhere they go, whenever they switch on the TV, walk down the street, or surf the internet. It’s not fair that parents are left with the burden of, having to say ‘no’ to everything, all the time,” Kathryn said.

Karen says, “The food industry pats itself on the back for introducing some vague rules on how it will advertise junk food to children, but as any parent would know, there are still huge numbers of ads for junk food during the shows that kids watch, at all hours of the day.

“We cannot trust the food industry to adequately stop advertising unhealthy food to kids, when children are such a lucrative market.

“Preventing childhood obesity and promoting healthy eating habits in our children is complex, but restricting ads for unhealthy foods on TV is just one of many measures that can be put in place to create a healthier society to reinforce healthy habits, instead of targeting kids with unhealthy alternatives” she said.

Proving that healthy advertising strikes a chord with parents, the Serve em up veggie promotion by ‘Good for Kids, Good For Life’ was also named as the best food marketing campaign to screen on television during 2010.

The Parents Jury supports a ban on all unhealthy food and drink advertisements on television up until 9pm daily, when large numbers of children are watching television. The Parents Jury also supports government restrictions on other unhealthy food marketing aimed at children, including internet and email marketing, in-store and on-pack promotions that target children using cartoon and celebrity endorsement, giveaways and competitions.

About the Fame & Shame Awards
The Parents Jury’s Fame & Shame Awards aims to raise awareness of the persuasive and misleading techniques that advertisers use to promote unhealthy foods and drinks to children, and to recognise the advertisements that promote healthy food to children in a fun and appealing way.

The Awards give Australian parents a public voice in the fight against unhealthy food and drink promotions which directly target children, which undermine parents’ influence.

Visitors to The Parents Jury website have been nominating examples of the best and worst children’s food marketing campaigns all year, and then voted on the finalists in three categories:

  • Pester Power: products targeting children directly through giveaways, celebrity endorsements, and movie tie-ins was awarded to the Kellogg’s LCM marketing campaign which convey to children than having an LCM bar their lunchbox will make them popular in the playground. Yet LCMs are contain moderate to high levels of fats, high levels of sugar, and contain very little fibre.
  • Smoke and mirrors: the most misleading advertising campaign was awarded to the Kellogg’s Nutri-grain marketing campaign which continues to promote the cereal as a suitable breakfast cereal for boys who aspire to become elite athletes, because it contains protein, vitamins and minerals. However Nutri-Grain is high in sugar and sodium, and has a very low fibre content.
  • Parents Choice: an award for the best healthy food marketing campaign was awarded to the Serve em up veggie promotion by ‘Good for Kids, Good For Life’ campaign. The TV and print ad campaign encourages parents to serve vegetables in creative an appealing ways to their kids, as it can take up to 10 tries for kids to like new tastes. An accompanying website provides further recipes and resources for families and games for kids.

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Postscript from Croakey: What I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall when Kellogg’s and their PR and marketing agencies consider strategies for managing those pesky parents…..Any thoughts on what these might involve, anyone?

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