Over 600 junk food ads in children’s programs in just three months

number of breaches

Ads shown in children’s programs

The 2014 Compliance Report from the Australian Food and Grocery Council has found 296 breaches of the Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative (RCMI) and 347 breaches of the Quick Service Restaurant Initiative (QSRI) in just three months during 2014. Over a year that is potentially over 2500 ads and that’s using their definition of “children’s programs”; programs with an audience of more than 35% children. It’s also using each companies’ definition of unhealthy food which has been shown to fall short of accepted Government standards.

Of the 17 companies signed up to the Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative only 4 were found not to breach the Initiative. Mars Australia and The Wrigley Company (102), Pepsico Aust (59), Coca-Cola South Pacific (28) and Campbell Arnott’s (28) were the worst offenders. Only one of the seven companies signed up to the Quick Service Restaurant Initiative didn’t breach the Initiative. Two hundred and forty-five ads for Hungry Jack’s were shown in children’s programs, 57 KFC ads and 29 McDonald’s ads . The table shows the companies that showed the highest number of junk food ads during children’s programs.

Taking into account the high numbers of children seeing junk food ads in popular shows where children make up less than 35% of the audience and ads by advertisers not signed up to these initiatives it’s clear we are not protecting kids from junk food ads.

The Annual Compliance Report sugar coats these figures by reporting 99.7% (RCMI) and 99.5% (QSRI) compliance with company commitments under the initiatives. This is because an ad for Hungry Jack’s chicken nuggets was shown 68 times in children’s programs but 2296 times in total, therefore making the percentage seem small at 97.3%. An ad for Snickers chocolates was shown 1000 times but only once in a children’s program with an audience of over 35% children, which would be reported as 0.1% of all screenings. Most companies excused the breaches by describing them as inadvertent and due to bonus airtime or changes in scheduling by the television networks.

Source: Australian Food & Grocery Council. Annual Compliance Report, 2014 Annual compliance report for the RCMI and QSRI. Barton, ACT: AFGC; 2015
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