US: Pepsi Puts a Lid on Kids' Ads

Publisher Name: 
The Australian

PepsiCo, one of the world's largest soft-drink makers, has introduced
voluntary restrictions on its advertising to children, in response to
rising levels of obesity in the US and western Europe.


The company, responsible for brands such as Pepsi-Cola and Doritos
chips, has also placed limits on the portion sizes of its products sold
in US schools.

The
measures are the latest by food and drink producers to prove they can
be trusted to regulate themselves, amid mounting pressure on
governments to curb obesity. The European Commission has threatened to
ban food and drink ads to children if the industry doesn't change its
behaviour and the British Government is considering red warning labels
on fattening products.

PepsiCo
executives and officials told the FT that the company was no longer
advertising its flagship cola to children under 12 or its Cheetos chips
brand to under-eights. The policy had been in place for several months
but the company decided against announcing it publicly - in contrast to
Kraft, another US food group that grabbed headlines in January by
saying it would reduce its advertising to children.

"Our
intent is not to just beat our chests and try to take credit for what
we're doing," said Irene Rosenfeld, the chief executive of Frito-Lay
North America, PepsiCo's snacks unit. "We're just quietly doing it
because it's the right thing to do."

She
said the company had replaced its fried Cheetos with a lower-fat baked
alternative in elementary schools and limited serving sizes for all
snacks to 150 calories, rising to 300 calories in middle schools. But
critics say food and drinks companies can still target children via
indirect marketing, such as endorsements by sports or pop stars and
product placements in films and TV.

PepsiCo
executives rejected calls for a blanket ban on advertising to children,
arguing it would reduce the industry's ability to help tackle obesity
by promoting healthy products and lifestyles.

AMP Section Name:Media & Entertainment
  • 181 Food and Agriculture
  • 188 Consumerism & Commercialism