Snack Food advertisers use SMS to target kids.

Snack Food advertisers use SMS to target kids.

United Kingdom

Junk food marketers target kids with dirty tricks
Food & Beverage Development – Europe
© 2000/2006 - Decision News Media SAS

Original information:
Exposed: The dirty tricks used to push junk food to children
29 January 2006
© Which 2006

Snack food advertisers are using new technologies to target children in the UK. These companies are using SMS, mobile phone text messages, to reach children which is said to be very effective. The format and language used for SMS messages is in a style children can understand.

At the moment there is only a voluntary code of conduct regulating the snack industry; this is expected to change in 2007.

- Nine out ten British children have a mobile phone.
- Which? and The Food Commission identified 40 publicity tricks using new technology.
- One third of children in the UK, between the ages of 2 – 15, are classed as overweight or obese.

Language Issues:
- Children are very much capable of understanding sophisticated language messages.
- Understanding a language does not imply that one understands the moral implications of a message.
- Context is very important for language. This story shows that the right message in a given context leads to the appropriate behaviour. The decisive factor seems to be that the reader can relate to the context.
- How can society use language to effectively communicate with children to teach them about value judgements?

- Given that companies are in business for a profit should they be compensated for not exploiting the market when they could do so legally?
- Is moral behaviour a value added feature for a company or brand?
- Couldn’t this be seen as brand positioning with children? Presumably, some people would still be attracted to the brand when the company offers healthy or normal foods.
- What are the long term legal and market implications for companies who sell unhealthy foods?
- Should this concern be a global issue?

How much will it cost the industry not to target children?

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