Sara Lee joins kids' advertising initiative

by Bryan Salvage
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ARLNGTON, Va. – Sara Lee Corporation has become the newest participant in the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, the Council of Better Business Bureau recently announced. As part of the initiative, Sara Lee has pledged that all TV, print, radio, Internet and other C.F.B.A.I.-covered advertising directed primarily to children under 12 will be for products that meet government standards defining the term “healthy” or the American Heart Association’s HeartCheck program criteria.

The C.F.B.A.I., since its inception in 2006 with 10 founding companies, has grown to include 17 industry leaders that have all committed to encourage healthier dietary choices and healthier lifestyles in children’s advertising. Initiative participants pledge to advertise only better-for-you products in media primarily directed to children under 12 or not to engage in any child-directed advertising.

“Sara Lee is showing its commitment to the health of our nation’s children by joining other industry leaders in only advertising to kids products that meet widely-accepted nutritional guidelines,” said Elaine D. Kolish, B.B.B. vice president and director of the C.F.B.A.I. “Under the C.F.B.A.I., the participants’ voluntary use of solid nutrition standards has steadily improved the nutritional profile of foods and beverages being advertised to children under 12. The calories, fat, sugar or sodium content of more than 100 products have decreased and four companies are not engaging in child-directed advertising at all.”

“We’re pleased to be joining the C.F.B.A.I. with our industry peers to help promote healthier products to kids,” said Laston Charriez, vice president, consumer and shopper activation, Sara Lee Corporation. “We look forward to working with the C.F.B.A..I and its members on this important topic.”

In addition to meeting government or AHA standards, any product advertised would have to fill a recognized nutritional need in children’s diets.

As required for all participants in the Initiative, Sara Lee will also:

• Restrict the use of third-party licensed characters in advertising primarily directed to children under 12 to products meeting its nutrition criteria.

• Refrain from advertising its food and beverages in elementary schools.

• Not pay for, or seek out, product placement in the program/editorial content of any media primarily directed to children under 12.

• Limit the use of food and beverages shown in interactive games primarily directed to children under 12 to products that meet its nutrition criteria.

The B.B.B. announced all participants are now using an audience threshold of no higher than 35% of children under 12 in the audience for their commitments to apply. Previously, some participants’ pledges applied only if at least half the audience consisted of children under 12. This harmonization of the participants’ definitions of “advertising primarily directed to children under 12” will provide even greater clarity and certainty to what is meant by child-directed advertising.

Because most participants now have policies to not engage in advertising primarily directed to children under age six, the B.B.B. will start monitoring and reporting on compliance with those policies in 2011.
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