Regulating Ads For Kids? Not So Fast

I’m not a parent, so I can’t personally testify to how well advertising aimed at kids works these days. I’m sure it’s a constant struggle for parents, many of whom I’m sure wished they wouldn’t have to deal with companies aiming their products at kids.
But I know that marketing and advertising fights back when it’s under duress. So this article in the New York Times doesn’t surprise me.

A report to Congress from several federal agencies — expected to include strict nutritional definitions for the sorts of foods that could be advertised to children — is overdue, and officials say it could be months before it is ready. Some advocates fear the delay could result in the measure being stripped of its toughest provisions.
Among the requirements under consideration and included in a preliminary proposal by the agencies: Cereals could have only eight grams of sugar per serving, far less than many cereals that are heavily advertised to children (Lucky Charms and Cocoa Pebbles have 11 grams and Froot Loops has 12). The level for saturated fats would be set so low it would exclude peanut butter. And to qualify for advertising, all foods would have to contain significant amounts of wholesome ingredients like whole grains, low-fat milk, fruits or vegetables.

If childhood obesity continues to remain an epidemic, advertising will make a convenient scapegoat. So the industry better come up with a good compromise to protect itself, if there is such a thing. Because, as as I’ve said before, advertising is an easy mark for politicians looking to score points with the public.

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for Dan published the best of his columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. I have never understood why our industry – or any other – runs from regulation or expresses a desire to police itself.
    What’s wrong with a level playing field, where all agencies know the rules of the game, as laid out by the voting public and our elected representatives? That’s way better than a trade organization putting together a vague list of best practices and then sitting around wondering who’ll give into temptation first.