Unilever is updating its principles for marketing food and beverages to children, including a change that will no longer target ads to children under age 12, amid widespread concerns about childhood obesity. For TV and other measurable media, it will not run ads in which children under age 12 represent over 25% of the audience.
Unilever, whose portfolio includes kid friendly brands such as Ben & Jerry’s and Klondike, said the change will apply to all food and beverage products, and goes further to define its marketing communications as TV and radio ads, digital activity, social media and digital ads, apps, PR materials, online games and other communication, including product placements.
In its blog post, Unilever said a key reason for the new principles is the fact that the World Health Organization calls childhood obesity one of the most serious public health issues of the 21st century.
“It’s a move designed to help parents, caregivers and kids make informed choices about the food and drinks they buy, and to address the rise of social media, and the vast increase in products on sale,” the post said.
Unilever will also change its influencer policy, not using influencers under the age of 12 or influencers who primarily appeal to children under 12.
The company says it will only show kids under 12 in its marketing communications if it’s for products that meet high nutritional standards or if it’s “relevant to the marketing message,” like a family activity, it said. “Parents or gatekeepers will always be portrayed in control of the access to a product,” the company writes in a policy statement.
Thank you Unilever, for putting people and health above profits.