"A great deal of political attention at international, regional and national levels has been focused on the question of marketing and advertising foods and beverages to children. The food and beverage industry...is making significant progress in both expanding and strengthening advertising self-regulatory processes globally...we recognize that, where it is not already the case, we should apply our individual marketing and advertising commitments on a global basis."
— IFBA letter to WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan 13 May, 2008
IFBA members have voluntarily adopted a strategy designed to change how and what they advertise to children under 12 years of age around the world, which has proven effective in helping to drive change in the marketplace and in improving the nutrition of foods marketed to children. This strategy is based on three actions:
- Implement IFBA’s Global Policy on Marketing Communications to Children, which is in line with the aims of WHO’s 2010 Set of Recommendations on Marketing to Children, and designed to reduce the impact on children of the marketing of foods high in fats, sugar and salt and increase their exposure to foods and beverages compatible with a balanced diet and healthy, active lifestyle.
- Encourage other industry players to implement regional and national policy to restrict advertising and marketing to children based on the core tenets of IFBA’s Global Policy.
- Monitor and evaluate compliance and impact.
The consolidated ICC code on Advertising and Marketing Communication Practice.
Read IFBA's Global Policy on Marketing Communications to Children
Read IFBA's Global Policy on Marketing Communications to Children Explained
Designing a framework for marketing food and beverages responsibly on a global scale is a challenge. To have the greatest impact and to deliver the most effective consumer protection, the model must be predicated on what can be achieved at an international, regional, national, industry and company level, and also be sensitive to variances in community standards. Each level of regulation and oversight must be subject to regular re-evaluation and monitoring to ensure that the system is responsive to public policy objectives.
Effective and responsible marketing to children also demands a multi-faceted approach to address both "how" products are being marketed to children and "what" products are being advertised to children.
Industry has developed a blueprint — which it is implementing globally — designed to address each of these issues.
The pyramid is divided into five tiers. The bottom three tiers address the "how" of advertising and marketing — i.e. the marketing techniques companies use. This requires an adherence to legal and ethical standards dictated by national or regional legal systems that prohibit deceptive or misleading advertising, and by national self-regulatory organizations, whose role is to police, monitor and enforce codes of conduct (e.g.The Consolidated ICC Code on Advertising and Marketing Communication Practice (9th ed. 2011), ensuring that advertising is legal, decent, honest and truthful, as well as codes of conduct specific to food marketing, such as the ICC Framework for Responsible Food and Non-alcoholic Beverage Marketing Communications (2012) which sets down the global minimum requirements for food and beverage marketing communications.
The top two tiers of the pyramid address the "what" — i.e. the products companies advertise. While IFBA members may represent a significant share of the market globally, they may not represent a significant share in national markets and for this reason, IFBA members have committed to promote "best practice" among local and regional players through national pledge programmes to encourage them to follow IFBA's lead and improve the types of products they advertise to children.
Pledges were first introduced in 2006 and now cover 51 countries, including the 27 countries of the European Union, the six countries of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, and Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Norway, Peru, the Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey and the U.S.A.
In countries where there is no pledge currently, the IFBA Global Policy on Advertising and Marketing Communications to Children applies to IFBA member companies’ marketing practices.
Regional/National Marketing Pledges Implemented
Compliance Monitoring & Reporting
IFBA is committed to transparency and accountability and to reporting on members’ compliance with the pledge programmes and evaluating the impact of such programmes.
- The IFBA Global Policy on Marketing Communications to Children:
In 2016, in its seventh year of monitoring, IFBA engaged Accenture Media Management to carry out independent monitoring of members’ compliance with IFBA’s Global Policy on Marketing Communications to Children, in a globally representative sample of markets. For 2015, Accenture reported that IFBA members continued to demonstrate a high rate of compliance 97% for television advertising, 99.8% for internet advertising and 100% for print advertising in child-directed media. Accenture examined more than half a million television ads on 397 channels over a three-month period in 10 markets — Brazil, China (Shanghai), Colombia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Accenture also examined print ads in five markets — Brazil, China, India, Russia, Singapore and South Africa and websites in four markets – Brazil, China, Russia and Singapore. To ensure transparency and credibility, all the media research data analyzed by Accenture was gained from sources independent of IFBA companies and their associated media agencies. Accenture also chose the period to be monitored after the advertising space had already been purchased by the companies. Read the Report.
- The EU Pledge: In 2016, EU Pledge members commissioned Accenture Media Management to review their compliance with the commitment relating to food and beverage advertising on TV; EASA to review EU Pledge companies’ branded websites for compliance; and Ebiquity to pilot test a new methodology to assess children’s exposure to EU Pledge members’ commercial communications on third-party websites. This is the eighth annual monitoring report of the EU Pledge and the record of compliance is positive and consistent with previous years. Accenture’s analysis of close to 900,000 TV spots in eight sample markets (Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain) during a three-month period found an overall compliance rate of 98.7%. EASA reviewed 250 national brand websites in ten EU countries and reported that 95% of websites were deemed compliant with the EU Pledge. (See EASA report below). EU Pledge members also measure the change in the overall balance of their food and beverage TV advertising to children under 12 in order to assess the impact of the initiative and corporate policies implemented in the framework of the EU Pledge. After seven years of monitoring, the EU Pledge has demonstrated a significant change in the balance of food advertising to children towards options that meet common nutrition criteria. The results reported by Accenture between 2009 and 2014 show a marked decline in children’s exposure to ads for products that do not meet companies’ nutrition criteria. The six-year average (2009-2014) confirms a significant decrease in children’s exposure to TV food advertising – an 83% reduction in exposure to ads for products that do not meet nutrition criteria in programmes with an audience composed of over 35% of children; a 48% reduction in exposure to ads for products that do not meet nutrition criteria overall; and a 32% reduction in exposure to ads for all products, regardless of nutrition criteria (i.e. in all programmes on all channels at all times.) Read the Report.
- The European Advertising Standards Alliance: The European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA) has conducted pan-annual European monitoring exercises since 2003 for the food and non-alcoholic beverage industry to verify compliance with the ICC Consolidated Code on Advertising and Marketing Communication Practice (2006) and the ICC Framework for Responsible Food and Non-alcoholic Beverage Marketing Communications (2006) and national self-regulatory provisions and laws. In 2016, the EU Pledge Secretariat commissioned EASA to run a pilot project to assess the appeal of marketer-owned websites and mobile applications to children under 12. The exercise was conducted by experts from 10 European self-regulatory organizations (SROs) and independently reviewed. A total of 250 national brand websites were reviewed, of which 95% were deemed compliant with the EU Pledge Criteria. Thirteen websites out of the 250 were found non-compliant with the EU Pledge criteria. A total of 20 brand-owned mobile applications were reviewed, of which eight were considered to be appealing primarily to children under 12, however only one out of eight featured non-compliance product promotions and none contained items that were in breach of advertising codes or relevant advertising laws. Read the Report
- The Union of European Soft Drink Associations UNESDA: In 2012/2013, UNESDA appointed the independent monitoring company and broadcast expert, Ebiquity, to audit compliance with its commitments on marketing to children to the European Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health. The five largest EU markets (representing approximately 65% of the EU population) were monitored in 2012: France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK. UNESDA members were found to be 99.35% compliant on their commitment to not advertise in television programmes where 35%+ of the audience comprise children under 12 years. This is consistent with the independent audits of 2006 and 2010 which each recorded compliance rates of 99%. Members were 100% compliant in print media (consistent with the 100% compliance level in 2010 and the 99.72% compliance level in 2006); 100% compliant in online media (consistent with the 100% compliance level achieved in 2006 and 2010); 100% compliant with its commitment not to target children under the age of 12 years in the digisphere; and 95.11% compliant on company-owned websites. Read the Report
- Australia:The Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative (RCMI) and Quick Service Restaurant Initiative for Responsible Advertising and Marketing to Children (QSRI): The Australian Food and Grocery Council’s report for 2016 involves two monitoring components: an external audit and complaint adjudications by the Advertising Standards Board (ASB). More than 145,000 hours of television viewing time was examined. Overall, compliance with the RCMI and the QSRI core principles during their seventh year of operation was high, with a compliance rate of 99.25% across both initiatives. Results of the external audit found that the provision of bonus airtime by the television network, the late scheduling of movies and last minute programme changes continue to present compliance issues for signatories. The ASB considered nine cases (all resulting from a single complaint) regarding RCMI and QSRI during 2016 (less than 2% of all cases considered by the ASB). In one case the ASB determined the ad was directly primarily to children for a product that did not meet the nutrition criteria; the other eight cases were dismissed. ASB noted that all RCMI and QSRI signatories compiled with ASB decisions. Read the Report
- CANADA: The Canadian Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CAI): In September 2016, Advertising Standards Canada (ASC) released the 2015 compliance report. The report confirms continuing high levels of compliance by the 17 participating companies in meeting the programme commitments. ASC also reports that the category-specific uniform nutrition criteria that came into effect at the end of 2015 (to replace company-specific nutrition criteria) have resulted in improvements to many foods advertised to children through the reduction of sugar, sodium, and saturated fats. ASC also conducts an annual spot check of children’s television advertising. In 2015, the spot check covered 60 hours of programming during which 1,468 commercial were aired. The analysis showed that the majority of television advertising directed to children was for toys, games, DVDs, in-theatre movies and attractions. In 2015 food and beverage commercial accounted for 9% of commercials aired, representing a 25% reduction from 2014, and all were for CAI-approved products. Read the Report
- U.S.A.: The Children's Food and Beverage Marketing Initiative (CFBAI): In December 2016, the Council of Better Business Bureaus published the compliance and progress report for 2015 for the Children's Food & Beverage Initiative (CFBAI). The report noted that overall pledge compliance was "excellent" and that participants in the initiative, which represent the majority of food advertising on children’s television programming, have “made measureable progress in improving the nutritional quality of the foods they advertise to children.” Read the Report