In the first significant media strategy shift by a major food marketer responding to pressure about childhood obesity, Kraft Foods Wednesday unveiled plans to dramatically overhaul its media plans aimed at children under the age of 11, instituting a self-imposed ban on advertising such products as Kool-Aid, Oreos and Chips Ahoy! Cookies to children.
Kraft said it would alter the mix of products it advertises on TV, radio and print media that are viewed primarily by children 6-11, including "many popular cartoon programs," toward products that meet proposed 2005 U.S. Dietary Guidelines, and to "phase out advertising in these media for products that don't."
Over the course of 2005, Kraft said it would completely phase out ads for a wide variety of kids-oriented products, including its Post cereals line, its Lunchables brand, its cookies and Kool-Aid drink mixes and snacks in media aimed at children. The company also said it would continue existing policies of not advertising in media with a principal audience under age six.
The change is significant, especially for the children's television industry, which has come to rely on ad budgets from food marketers. Food, which has been one of the fastest growing categories over the past decade, is now one of the largest advertising categories for children's TV programmers.
"We believe that these initiatives are a step in the right direction," stated Lance Friedmann, Kraft's senior vice president, global health & wellness.
As part of the initiative, Kraft will introduce a "Sensible Solution" labeling program to help consumers understand the nutritional value of Kraft's food products and to make sensible choices. The labels will begin appearing on Kraft's food products in the U.S. in April. Among the products in the U.S. that will carry the flag are: Kraft 2% Milk Shredded Reduced Fat cheese, Post Shredded Wheat cereal, Minute Rice Instant whole grain brown rice, Triscuit Original baked whole grain wheat crackers and Crystal Light beverages. Plans are under development for similar programs in other countries, based on regulatory requirements and other local considerations.
Kraft said the media strategy shift would occur gradually in the U.S. over 2005, and that in 2006, "as existing commitments expire, advertisements of all products not meeting the criteria will be phased out completely around the world."
The company said it would continue to advertise its full portfolio of products in television, radio and print media seen principally by parents and all-family audiences.
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