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Council of Better Business Bureaus
New Year Brings New Changes to Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Landscape
January 14, 2009

BBB announces all pledges under Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative now in effect

Arlington, VA - The Council of Better Business Bureaus today announced that the commitments of all 15 of the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative participants are now in effect. On January 1, the advertising commitments in the pledges of General Mills, Inc., Kellogg Company, Nestlé USA and The Dannon Company went fully into effect, joining the pledges of the 11 other Initiative members already in effect.

Under the terms of the Initiative, participating companies shift their advertising in measured media (TV, radio, print and third-party Internet sites) primarily directed to children under 12 to healthier or better-for-you foods or include healthy lifestyle messaging in the ads at least half the time. All of the participating companies exceed the Initiative’s baseline requirements with 11 participants committing to advertise better-for-you foods to children 100 percent of the time, and four pledging not to engage in child-directed advertising. 

When launched in 2006, the 10 founding Initiative participants accounted for about two-thirds of the food, beverage and restaurant advertising on children’s programming, based on 2004 children’s food and beverage television advertising data. According to the latest data available from Nielsen Media Research for the year 2007, Georgetown Economic Services has found that the now 15 Initiative participants accounted for more than 80 percent of the food, beverage and restaurant commercials that children between the ages of two and eleven saw on children’s television programming that year.

“The significant changes achieved in a short period since the Initiative went into effect are a testament to the dedication of industry leaders and the power of self-regulation,” according to Elaine D. Kolish, vice president and director of the Initiative. “BBB’s time-tested methods for meaningful self-regulation are based on rigorous standards coupled with BBB’s engaged oversight, which ultimately holds organizations accountable in a transparent, public manner.”

To help the public better understand the commitments of Initiative participants, a chart containing a summary of the nutrition criteria of the 15 participants and a list of all the products that currently may be the subject of advertising primarily directed to children under 12 during 2009 have been developed.

The list includes products such as apples, yogurts, yogurt parfaits, peanut butters, whole-grain cereals, 100 percent fruit or vegetable juices, milk, water, macaroni and cheese, and lower calorie or portion-controlled snacks such as crackers and frozen treats. In some instances, the product names may be the same as before, but the products have been reformulated to meet the company’s nutrition criteria for better-for-you foods. Products qualify as better for you if they meet a participant’s nutrition criteria, which has been reviewed and approved by Initiative leadership. The chart and list are available online at: www.us.bbb.org/advertisers4healthykids

Implementation dates for participants’ pledges varied by company, reflecting the time needed to reformulate products and change advertising plans. Campbell Soup Company, The Coca-Cola Company, The Hershey Company, Kraft Foods Global Inc., Mars, Inc. and Unilever United States, implemented pledges in 2007. Burger King Corp., Cadbury Adams USA LLC, McDonald’s USA, and PepsiCo, Inc. fully implemented their pledges in 2008. General Mills, Inc. began implementation in 2008 and completed its implementation by January 1. ConAgra Foods, Inc. implemented its pledge for three product lines, Kid Cuisine, Peter Pan and Hunt’s Snack Pack in September 2008. Its fourth child-directed brand line, Chef Boyardee, will be fully implemented no later than June 2009. Nestlé USA’s commitment on measured media was implemented on January 1 and its pledge regarding company-owned Web sites will be fulfilled during the first half of the year.

In July 2008, the Initiative published its first progress report on the first six months of the program’s implementation (July – December 2007), and plans to issue a 2008 report later this year. The Council of Better Business Bureaus requires participants to submit reports and documentation regarding their compliance and conducts independent monitoring to assess whether participants are meeting their commitments. Noncompliance is publicly reported and substantial noncompliance may result in program expulsion. 

For more information on the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative or to schedule an interview with Elaine Kolish, director of the Initiative, contact Alison Preszler at 703-247-9376.

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About the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative
BBB launched the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative in November 2006 to shift the mix of advertising messaging directed at children to encourage healthier dietary choices and healthier lifestyles. The 15 participants of the Initiative are Burger King Corp.; Cadbury Adams USA LLC; Campbell Soup Company; The Coca-Cola Company; ConAgra Foods, Inc.; The Dannon Company; General Mills, Inc.; The Hershey Company; Kellogg Company; Kraft Foods Global, Inc.; Mars, Inc.; McDonald’s USA, LLC; Nestlé USA; PepsiCo, Inc.; and Unilever United States. For more information about the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative and to view the pledges of the participants visit: www.us.bbb.org/advertisers4healthykids