I read today that the UK consumer watchdog group “Which?” has ‘condemned’ the use of superheros in advertising to children, particularly by large food companies such as Kellogg’s.
I also read that Nickelodeon will stop allowing its characters to be used in ‘junk food’ advertising. The group last week said that as of January 2009 its licensed characters on food packaging will be limited to ‘better for you’ products, in accordance with government dietary guidelines.
Advertising does play a role in our continuing obesity crisis, but I question if this is the right decision. From working in the food and supplement industry I know that the target ‘consumer’ for kids products is not the child, it is the child’s mother. After all, typically a 5 year old doesn’t go out and by frosted cereals, mom buys them for the 5 year old.
So, if we want to lower the amount of junk food in children’s diets, perhaps we should spend less time looking at how often superman appears on packaging (which really only appeals to the child) and more time examining the supposed health claims that are increasingly appearing on labels and packaging (which appeals to the moms)