Soft Drinks, Hard Sell: How soft drink companies target children and their parents

The Children's Food Campaign conducted a survey of the summer's soft drink marketing campaigns in 2011 that are likely to appeal to children and their parents. We compared the products with their marketing messages, across a range of brands, and found that in several cases, companies were using misleading marketing to sell more soft drinks to children.


The Children's Food Campaign conducted a survey of the summer’s soft drink marketing campaigns in 2011 that are likely to appeal to children and their parents. We compared the products with their marketing messages, across a range of brands, and found that in several cases, companies were using misleading marketing to sell more soft drinks to children.

In 2010, UK consumption of soft drinks grew by 4.1 per cent to reach 14.6 billion litres. This means that the average person now consumes 234 litres per year or 642ml per day: the equivalent of almost two standard (330ml) cans. As a result the soft drinks sector grew by 5.8 per cent that year, to become a £13.9 billion industry, the fastest annual rate of growth in the last seven years. Manufacturers have been investing heavily in their products and their marketing through a range of tactics.

This report shows that the soft drinks market is a lucrative one, and companies have millions of pounds to spend on marketing their products, including to children and their parents. Unfortunately, we believe that many of these marketing messages are misleading, and we believe they are encouraging parents and children to consume drinks that contradict public health advice. As a result, the report recommends that Government should:

  • introduce robust and consistent regulatory standards to protect children from the marketing
  • of unhealthy food and drink products
  • recommend that all food manufacturers use a consistent form of colour-coded front-of-pack nutritional labelling
  • ensure that the food-based and nutrient-based standards for school food are maintained, and extended to academies and free schools
  • and that local authorities should ensure that drinking water is available in parks and other public places

Report contents

Introduction

  • Thirsty Britain
  • Marketing tactics
  • Children’s diet and health
  • What should children be drinking?
  • This report

What we did

Examples

  • Fruit Shoot Hydro: better than water?
  • Vimto: raspberry content less than 0.1 per cent
  • Ribena: natural source of vitamin C?
  • Capri-Sun: nothing artificial, not much fruit

Conclusion and recommendations 

  • Are ingredients the new 'small print'?
  • Big name brands: big offenders in misleading marketing
  • The problem with advertising 'controls'
  • Recommendations

References 

 


29/08/2011
Children's Food Campaign

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