Junk foods continue to be advertised to children, ten years on from the introduction of industry codes.
Kids are obsessed with 'minions' and anything to do with the Despicable Me movie franchise and unfortunately junk food companies take advantage of this obsession.
The Despicable Me movie was released during the school holidays, cue the junk food companies craftily adding Despicable Me 3 paraphernalia to their products and heavily promoting to children.
One such company was McDonald’s, who launched their ‘Despicable Me 3 Family Box’ marketing campaign. The advertisement showed a young boy’s passion with anything to do with Minions, dressing up as a Minion and eventually dragging his reluctant mum into the fast food restaurant and excitedly tucking into the ‘Family Box’ which included Minion shaped deep-fried potato snacks.
Complaints to Ad Standards said the ad breached the regulations because it is targeted at children, does not promote healthier choices and uses popular characters (Minions) to market products and encourage kids to pester their parents.
McDonald’s argued their case saying the ad was targeted at parents not children, because it “highlights common struggles of parenting” and that “the mere connection with the Minion movie does not immediately make it directed primarily to children”. Furthermore, the use of colours within the ad (i.e. Minion colours) was apparently "real, earthy and contemporary ... to appeal to parents and adults, as opposed to children". McDonald’s also said the ad had "more nuanced themes" that appeal to adults’ and that kids wouldn’t understand, however the biggest questionable claim was that the ad "does not make a call on children to make a direct association between the Despicable Me 3 movie and the McDonald’s Family Box".
Unfortunately Ad Standards agreed with McDonald’s and ruled that this ad was not targeted at children, therefore was not in breach of the regulations. Food companies are continually using these tactics to push their products on our children. Tougher regulations are needed to reduce our kids exposure to junk food marketing.