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About the Initiative

The Council of Better Business Bureaus and 10 leading food and beverage companies launched the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative in November 2006. The goal of the Initiative is to shift the mix of advertising primarily directed to children (“child-directed advertising”) to encourage healthier dietary choices and healthy lifestyles. Currently, the CFBAI has 17 participants that represent about 80% of child-directed TV food advertising.

Under the CFBAI, meaningful, company-specific nutrition standards govern what foods participants advertise to children. On December 31, 2013, new CFBAI-developed uniform nutrition criteria will go into effect and become the new foundation for child-directed food advertising. Participants also may elect to not engage in child-directed advertising, and currently three participants have chosen this option. Each company is responsible for developing an individual commitment (“pledge”) that addresses the program’s Core Principles. Under these Principles participating companies agree to:

  • Devote 100% of their child-directed advertising to better-for-you foods, or to not engage in such advertising; 
  • Establish nutrition standards, consistent with established scientific and/or government standards and recommendations and subject to BBB approval, that govern what foods they may advertise to children (new CFBAI-developed uniform nutrition criteria go into effect on Dec. 31, 2013);
  • Limit the use of third-party licensed characters, celebrities and movie tie-ins in child-directed advertising consistent with the company’s advertising commitment;
  • Not pay for or actively seek to place their food and beverage products in the program/editorial content of any medium that is child-directed for the purpose of promoting the sale of those products; 
  • Include only the company’s better-for-you foods or healthy dietary choices in interactive games that incorporate a company’s food products; and 
  • Not advertise their branded foods to children in elementary schools (this limitation does not apply to charitable fundraising, displays of food products, public service messaging or items given to school administrators).

The Initiative covers child-directed advertising on traditional media (TV, radio, print and Internet) as well as on new and emerging media, such as mobile media and video games, and through word-of-mouth advertising. No participant uses a threshold higher than 35% children 2-11 in the audience to define child-directed advertising. In addition, although not a CFBAI requirement, most participants have adopted individual policies to not engage in advertising primarily directed to children under 6.

Participants agree to CFBAI oversight and monitoring of their pledges and to be held accountable for failure to comply with their pledges. All the pledges are available on this website. At the CFBAI’s direction, the participants submit compliance reports regarding their covered activities. CFBAI publishes an annual report regarding participants’ compliance with their commitments and the progress of the Initiative. 

Initiative Staff

Elaine D. Kolish, Vice President and Director, Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative