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Food Marketing to Children and Youth: Threat or Opportunity?
exclusive contracts with movie production companies. Burger King partners with DreamWorks and Nickelodeon for co-branding (Ordonez, 2001). In 1996, McDonald’s Corporation signed a 10-year contract with Disney (McDonald’s Corporation, 1996). It has also started a new multicategory licensing initiative called McKIDS™ that unifies its branded product line including toys, interactive videos, books, and DVDs to reflect active lifestyles (McDonald’s Corporation, 2003). In 2005, the McKIDS™ line of products will offer branded bikes, scooters, skateboards, outdoor play equipment, and interactive DVDs.
Finding: The use of child-oriented licensed cartoon and other fictional or real-life spokescharacters has been a prevalent practice used to promote low-nutrient and high-calorie food and beverage products. Use of such characters to promote more healthful foods, particularly for preschoolers, is relatively recent.
Manufacturers of CSDs have become highly competitive to capture the youth market, and youth appeal is being built into advertising targeted to broader audiences and specifically to adolescents. Celebrity endorsements of CSDs, such as the popular cola wars advertisement between Britney Spears, who advertised Pepsi®, and Christina Aguilera, who endorsed Coca-Cola®, links a brand to a fan base (TTT West Coast, 2002), and are designed to appeal to older children, tweens, and teens in the course of their exposure to advertising in adult and prime-time programming. Celebrity endorsement is also used for products from categories viewed as more healthful. Since 1994, the Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board has sponsored the popular “Milk Mustache” celebrity advertising campaign that has featured entertainers and athletes promoting the benefits of milk and milk product consumption to promote bone health and to prevent osteoporosis, especially targeted to teens (Graetzer, 2005).
Premiums and Premium Advertising
Premium offers, such as toys or giveaways, are commonly used in children’s food marketing. The Coca-Cola Company, which considered youth an important market for its drink by the early 1930s, was one of the first companies to use premiums to market to children and teens, which included special offers and premiums such as yo-yos, marbles, jump ropes, kites, whistles, wagons, and scooters provided by local bottlers (Petretti, 1992). Premiums are often used in RTE breakfast cereal marketing. The practice of providing product “news” on a cereal package was used as an