Food giants agree to alter marketing efforts to kids

WASHINGTON: News last week that many prominent companies agreed to set basic nutrition standards for foods they advertise to kids could lead to modified youth-market PR outreach.

WASHINGTON: News last week that many prominent companies agreed to set basic nutrition standards for foods they advertise to kids could lead to modified youth-market PR outreach.

Among those who have agreed to some degree of limiting ads to children under the age of 12 were McDonald's, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, and General Mills. The decision came after member companies of the Council for Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) agreed to the move, which was designed, in part, to help stave off government regulation.

McDonald's communications will be unaffected by the decision because PR isn't used to reach kids, said Shanelle Armstrong, manager of US communications.

"We focus much more on media relations, [IR], corporate communications, [so] we engage with adults in those mediums. We talk to moms, not to children," she said. "We inform people about what's going on, but I can't think of any forum that we need to use [PR] to engage a number of children."

"There are other brands that will be much more impacted by this," she added, "because some of what they do has a heavy PR or consumer engagement around their brand and the consumer, who may be under 12."

Tony Telloni, MD at Burson-Marsteller, says that the outreach had already been tapered before this recent event.

"I think the affect has already been felt for a while," Telloni said. "[But] it will cause [some] to modify the type of outreach they do."

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