Unilever to Self-Reform Ads to Kids

Feb. 12, 2020
Unilever is self-restricting its marketing of ice cream and other foods to children.

Unilever is self-restricting its marketing of ice cream and other foods to children, including not placing ads on TV shows and other media that primarily appeal to them.

The company, whose ice cream brands include Ben & Jerry’s, Breyer’s and Magnum, announced on its blog that it will phase in the rules over the course of 2020. The first to be affected will be Wall’s, an ice cream brand marketed in the United Kingdom, Asia and the Middle East. The new standards eventually will apply to all Unilever foods and beverages.

Under the standards:

  • Ads will not appear on TV shows where children under 12 constitute 25% or more of the audience.
  • Marketing will not include any celebrities, social media stars or influencers who “primarily appeal” to children under 12.
  • Children under 12 will not appear in ads unless the products advertised meet Unilever’s nutritional standards. For ice cream, this means a maximum of 110 calories and 12g of sugar per serving.

Unilever said it was motivated to impose the new standards by concerns over childhood obesity, which, it noted, the World Health Organization has named as one of the top health concerns of this century. “It’s a move designed to help parents, caregivers and kids make informed choices about the food and drinks they buy, and to address the rise of social media, and the vast increase in products on sale,” the company blog says.

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