Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Product placement and our children

Today I'm going to proselytise a bit. Who wants their children not to be encouraged to eat junk food? Hands up!...Then, please read on: the following is an email sent by myself (and others) to our government. And I attach the reply: if you share my opinion, I suggest you might copy the body of the letter and send it to Mr.Green's email address as below (let's hope his name augurs well!) - with fingers crossed as to the power of public opinion. Do exercise your duty as a parent in this regard.

I suppose the alternative is not letting children watch television: already seriously curtailed in our house! (But still. At some point we have to reach outside our own little worlds to take greater responsibility.) And don't log out, U.S. readers, thinking that this is only relevant to my side of the pond - you might be interested in some of the information below...

Dear Sir,
Please do not allow product placement in British made television programmes. The proposals to allow product placement in UK-made television programmes will lead to children being exposed to more marketing for unhealthy food products. While I welcome commitments that product placement will not be allowed in children's programming, research by consumer group Which? in 2008 showed that 16 of the 20 programmes on the commercial channels most popular with children were not classified as "children's programming" and therefore, under your proposals, would be able to contain product placement of unhealthy foods.

In the US, where product placement is permitted, Coca-Cola is the brand paying for the most product placement. Yet research from the US has suggested that sugary drinks such as Coca-Cola may be the biggest driver of the obesity epidemic. Product placement on UK-produced television programmes could lead to a similar situation in the UK, contributing to the already worrying increase in childhood obesity rates.
I am particularly concerned that product placement breaches the principle that advertising should be clearly recognised as such, and distinguishable from editorial content. It is important that people know when they are being advertised to, and parents are able to recognise advertising and protect their children from it. With product placement, marketing goes on behind parents' backs.

I know that I am not alone in these concerns: a recent survey of 1,349 UK adults by Redshift Research found that 91% did not think it is right to influence children with product placement.

Please help us to protect our children from covert marketing for unhealthy food , and not undermine our effort to give our children healthy diets by allowing junk food companies to target them with their brand of 'secret selling'.

Yours sincerely

Reply from:

Thank you for your recent e-mail about the Government’s consultation on television product placement. This is an important issue on which the Government is keen to hear peoples’ views, and we are grateful to you for taking the trouble to write. Our consultation closes on 8 January 2010 and we plan to make an announcement as soon as possible after that.We will give careful consideration to your comments before we do so.

Yours sincerely
Chris Green
Public Engagement & Recognition Unit
Department for Culture, Media & Sport

1 comment:

  1. Great post! The Childresn's Food Campaign is angry that the consultation is being sneaked through with little or no publicity. The government are breaking their own code of practice by rushing it through in 8 weeks and running it through Christmas and new Year.

    We have until the 8 Jan 2009 to email the department. Have you seen the article about it in last weeks article?