Mars: we'll stop marketing to under-12s

The maker of Mars, Snickers and Maltesers, has pledged to stop marketing to children under 12.

Masterfoods says its new policy – which will apply to all advertising, including online and new media – will come into force by the end of the year.

The group - which also makes Bounty, M&Ms and Maltesers - already has a policy of not advertising to children younger than six, but health campaigners have pushed for more.

Health and consumers groups, such as Which?, have welcomed the announcement, in light of concerns about the link between junk food ads and child obesity.

However it remains to be seen whether under-12s will no longer be within the reach of competitions and online campaigns run by Masterfoods.

A company spokesman said: ‘Over the last several years, concerns have been expressed by governments and parents about the marketing of products to children.

‘Mars believes it is important to listen to concerns and respond directly, in keeping with our desire to support the paramount role of parents in making purchasing decisions about foods on behalf of their children.

‘We have therefore decided we will not direct communications about our core food and confectionery products to children under the age of 12, with the exception of our 'better for you' products which meet regional nutritional guidelines, where the cut-off will be nine years of age.

‘Also, we will not participate in promotions primarily directed to children under 12, again with the exception of products we intend to develop to meet the specific nutritional interests of children.’

Miranda Watson, campaign team leader at Which?, said: 'While it is encouraging that Masterfoods recognises the need to address irresponsible marketing to children, it is disappointing that only children up to 12 will be covered by its new policy. Obesity among older children is even higher and advertising plays a key part in the food choices they make.”

The decision by Masterfoods follows Ofcom’s pledge last year to ban the advertising of all foods high in salt, sugar and fat during children’s television programmes.

 

7th February 2007

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