Study Faults Fast-Food Ads With Toys
McDonald’s and Burger King have both pledged to abide by guidelines that, among other health-conscious goals, aim to shift the focus of food advertisements to children away from toys and other gimmicks. A study found, however, that these companies broke that promise. Researchers examined advertisements televised in the United States between July 1, 2009, and June 30, 2010, by top fast-food chains. While ads targeting adults tended to focus on food or value, ads made for children emphasized toys or movie tie-ins. Previous studies have found that associating foods with animated characters affects children’s perception of how the food tastes and that obese children are particularly susceptible to fast-food marketing. The industry-sponsored group that put out the guidelines disagrees with the findings, saying that both McDonald’s and Burger King honored their commitments and that the chains’ marketing practices have changed since the ads in the study were aired.
Source: PLOS One, August 2013