Friday, August 1, 2008

Big Gulp: Food Marketers Spend Big To Target Kids

Technology: The business and culture of our digital lives, from the L.A. Times

Kids get a taste of food-related advertising online

Food A new report out today revealed some unsurprising information: Marketers spend a lot of money trying to get kids hooked on foods such as Shrek cereal and Pirates of the Caribbean waffles. What's a little more surprising is that they don't spend much money marketing food to kids where so many of them hang out -- on the Internet. In 2006, the time period that the online-spending portion of the report covered, food companies only allocated 5% of their youth marketing dollars online. (Of course, the online advertising market is growing by double digits every year, much faster than overall ad spending, so the percentage has probably increased since 2006.)

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A new FTC report says that overall, $1.6 billion was spent in 2006 to promote food and beverage items like soft drinks, fast food, and cereal to kids. This is the first study of its kind--worth at least a quick look.

Online promotions are a small part of marketers' budgets. It doesn't cost that much to put up a kid-friendly site with product- or brand-related games, prizes, competitions and more.

I just hope parents are looking over their kids' shoulders and reinforcing ideas about good nutrition and healthy habits.

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