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  • TV Advertising

    Television is an excellent tool to promote the association of brands with celebrities, philanthropic activities, sponsorship or environmental investment initiatives.

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) has identified the heavy marketing of energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods as a probable factor in the obesity epidemic1 and has made it a priority in its strategy to fight chronic diseases.2

    To reach young people, the industry enjoys many diverse communication channels and tools that multiply the points of contact with consumers.

    In addition to direct product promotions, SSB producers strive more than anything to create an emotional link with young people by hooking into their hobbies, passions and interests to entice them and gain their loyalty.

    Among young people, the agri-food industrys promotional activities influence the following3, 4, 5, 6, 7 ,8 :

    knowledge and attitude towards junk food eating habits and preferences

    In the United States alone, US$948 million was spent on advertising by sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) companies across all media in 2010, which represents 5% more than in 20089.

    Print MediaPrint advertising reinforces visibility and supports the message and brand image carried by other media (TV, Web, social media).12

    ContestsContests help promote products, but also generate website traffic and viral marketing, or even populate company data-bases.

    Mobile phonesSmartphones allow promotional strategies to be diversified to reach young people:

    Text messaging is an unrivalled tool as 92% of messages are read, 95% of which are read within 15 minutes of being sent, and 25% of which are forwarded to someone else.

    Mobile apps Games Contests

    Advertising banners Wallpapers Etc.



    about 15 hours a week10Ages 2-11

    Radio Advertising

    Radio ads are used when launching new products, price promotions, sponsorships and events.

    8 to 9 hours a week11

    Ages 12-17 Cross-promotionCross-advertising allows products to be promoted together by using each ones visibility to boost the campaign.

  • Internet

    New media feature very prominently in SSB advertising strate-gies. They make it possible to target young people and to take advantage of their viral potential by using them as relayers and content creators.

    Peer pressure: 60% of 12-24 year olds say that when plan-ning to buy something, they mainly rely on the opinion of a friend or an acquaintance who has tried the product in ques-tion.14

    43% 32% 25%

    < 10 hours 11 to 20 hours > 20 hours

    Product PlacementProduct placement16,17,18,19 is a more subtle form of adverti-sing that lets you get around both the requirements gover-ning traditional advertising and some viewers aversion to overt advertising.20

    This strategy is used in:

    TV programs Films Video games (in-game advertising)

    per week13Ages 12-17

    According to the WHO, young people are an ideal target group for Internet advertisers because they stay online for longer periods than adults and participate in a wider range of online activities.15

    Online marketing strategies aimed at young people include:

    Website proliferation Presence on social media sites (Facebook, MySpace, You-

    Tube, Twitter, etc.) Emails Creation of advergames (games advertising brands)

    Sponsorship and PhilanthropyNearly all of the food and beverage categories used athletic sponsorships and celebrity endorsements as promotional techniques, and these were primarily directed to teens.21

    The philanthropic activities of SSB companies emphasize their investment in sports, environment and community. This buys the brand a positive image in the minds of consumers and is an attempt to get them to forget their products harmful impact on health.

  • Provincial QuebecSections 248 and 249 of the provinces 1978 Consumer Pro-tection Act prohibit advertising from targeting children under the age of 13. The development of new advertising techniques as well as the changing media consumption habits of young people call for modernizing the laws enforcement rules.32,33,34

    In Quebec, modernize the enforcement rules of the Consumer Protection Act prohibiting adver-tising to children so that they take into account young peoples new media consumption habits and the development of new advertising techniques.

    Other Provinces Just like Quebec, other provinces have the power to regulate childrens advertising on their territory. To do so, some modi-fications need to be made to the various consumer protection laws in those jurisdictions.

    In the absence of federal regulations prohibiting adverti-sing aimed at children, Canadas provinces and territories should explore the possibility of introducing a law similar to Quebecs and engage in discussions with parents and rele-vant organizations on this subject.

    FederalOf course, the provinces can each adopt regulations similar to Quebecs. However, federal regulations would help to esta-blish the necessity of protecting children from advertising and would apply to all provinces and territories of Canada.

    Consider introducing federal regulations similar to Quebecs in order to prohibit advertising aimed at children by amending the Food and Drug Act as well as the Competition Act.

    Create a committee to analyze ways of reducing the impact of sugar-sweetened beverage promotion.


    Although in some countries concrete actions have been taken to reduce intensive marketing aimed at young people,22 other countries leave the industry to regulate itself, as is presently the case in Canada. According to many healthcare experts and professionals, industry self-regulation and voluntary approaches to childrens advertising have failed to yield the desired results.23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30,31 Effective regulations are therefore required to actually protect young Canadians from aggressive marketing aimed at them.

    OversightAlthough a highly interesting and relevant regulation has been in force for over 30 years in Quebec, the first prosecutions conducted by the Consumer Protection Bureau have been a response to complaints filed by the Weight Coalition in 2007. This highlights a major lack of resources that made it impos-sible to oversee the industrys advertising practices effectively. However, supervision is at the heart of WHO recommenda-tions concerning regulations on advertising to children.35

    Ensure that provincial and federal regulations are backed by sufficient financial resources and an adequate structure to oversee advertising practices effectively.

    A Canadian ConcernIn September 2010, federal, provincial and territorial health ministers agreed to concentrate their efforts to curb childhood obesity and promote healthy weights in order to help Cana-dians lead longer and healthier lives.36

    To that end, they endorsed Curbing Childhood Obesity: A Fede-ral, Provincial and Territorial Framework for Action to Promote Healthy Weights.37

    In this regard, decreasing the marketing of foods and beve-rages high in fat, sugar and/or sodium to children is part of three strategic priorities outlined in the document to curb obe-sity among young Canadians.

    64% of Canadians wanted to

    see a ban on all advertising aimed

    at children.

    (2010 Omnibus Web Survey)

  • 1. World Health Organization (2009). Diet, Nutrition and Prevention of Chronic Diseases, WHO Technical report series 916, section 5.2.4 Strength of evidence, Table 7, 63. Consulted on May 15, 2012 at

    2. World Health Organization (2009). Prevention and control of noncommunicable diseases: implementation of the global strategy, Report by secretariat. Consulted on May 2, 2012 at

    3. Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance of Canada (2008). CDPAC Position Statement. Obesity and the Impact of Marketing on Children. Consulted on August 19, 2011 at

    4. World Health Organization (2009). Stratgie mondiale pour lalimentation, lexercice physique et la sant. Consulted on August 23, 2011 at

    5. Hastings, G., Stead, M., McDermott, L., Forsyth, A., MacKintosh, A. M., Rayner, M., Godfrey, C., ...& Angus, K. (2003). Review of Research on the Effects of Food Promotion to Children. Glasgow, The University of Strathclyde, Food Standards Agency. Consulted on 11 August 11, 2011 at

    6. McDermott, L., Stead, M. & Hastings, G. (2007). Case study 4: A marketing strategy to review the effects of food promotion to children. Consulted on August 11, 2011 at

    7. Sustain: The alliance for better food and farming (2004). Childrens food and health: Why legislation is urgently required to protect children from unhealthy food advertising and promotions. Consulted on August 18, 2011 at

    8. Office de la protection du consommateur (2008). Vos enfants et la pub. ditions Protgez-vous. Consulted on May 2, 2012 at

    9. Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity (2011). Evaluating sugary drink nutrition and marketing to you


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