We have never been big fans of industry pledges. They make for wonderful press releases (one reason why industry is so fond of them), but are often vague, only applicable for short periods of time, or not regulated.
This article, titled “Fast Food Companies Are Breaking Their Own Pledges About How They Advertise to Kids”, makes some important points.
- “Have McDonald’s and Burger King lived up to their promises? Not at all, argues a new study, published last week in the journal PLoS One. A team of researchers from Dartmouth University’s medical school and Northeastern University’s law school analyzed Burger King and McDonald’s TV ads that aired over a year between 2009 and 2010. They showed randomly selected ads to 100 children aged three to seven. All of the ads contained at least some healthy food item, such as apples and milk. But that didn’t really matter. When researchers asked the kids what they remembered about the ads, the children didn’t remember any food as often as two-thirds of the time. At the same time, about half the children remembered characters and toys. When the kids did remember food, they were more likely to recall seeing unhealthy foods than healthy ones. So much for “clearly secondary” tie-in messaging.”
- “The Better Business Bureau pledge that McDonald’s, Burger King, and 15 other food companies signed is an industry pledge. It’s not legally binding, although the bureau may report pledge-breakers to the Federal Trade Commission.”