KRAFT TO STOP ADVERTISING SOME FOODS TO CHILDREN
Marketing Strategy Shifted to Emphasize More Nutritious Products
The food behemoth, continuing to fend off criticism for its role in the childhood obesity problem, expanded the children's marketing guidelines it announced earlier this year. It made the announcement at a summit on health, nutrition and obesity in Sacramento convened by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The earlier guidelines only included advertising in TV, radio and print media but not the Internet.
Kraft announced its Sensible Solutions label in January, saying that it would shift the bulk of its $800 million ad budget behind brands that qualify for the label, among them Sugar-Free Kool-Aid and Lunchables Fun Pack Chicken Dunks along with others that provide essential nutrients or reduced sugars, calories or fat.
Addressing the summit, where Kraft was placed on an "honor roll" of companies that responded to the governor's mandate for reform, Kraft CEO Roger Deromedi also announced the launch of a line of whole-grain Nabisco cookies and crackers, among them Fig Newtons, Chips Ahoy and Wheat Thins, and pledged to strengthen self-regulation of food and beverage marketing to younger children.
Response praised by critics
Kraft has been praised by critics for responding to the childhood obesity crisis with new products and new marketing policies far ahead of its fellow food marketers including Kellogg Co. and General Mills, but nutrition experts still maintain that the moves don't go nearly far enough to truly address the problem. Kraft, still majority-owned by Philip Morris owner Altria Group, is all too aware of the pitfalls of marketing vilified products and has been proactively publicizing its varied nutrition-oriented efforts to clear itself of wrongdoing.
Kraft's marketing policy applies also to anything on the Web that would be seen principally by children ages 6 to 11. Kraft's executive vice president of corporate affairs, Mark Berlind, called the expansion a "natural evolution" of its policy, which he said initially focused on TV because "that's the vast majority of impressions kids see" of Kraft products, making up roughly 90% of its children's media budget, and seemed to be the vehicle primarily highlighted an an issue for consumers. But, he said, those viewing the new marketing policy guidelines quickly began to question why it didn't include the Internet, prompting Kraft to apply the principles to the Internet.
Postopia Web site
Mr. Berlind said the Web site most impacted will be Postopia, whose visitors are mainly children under 12 and which currently features some products that are not Sensible Solutions. In 2006, Kraft will adapt the site to feature only Sensible Solutions products, he said. Mr. Berlind noted that recent changes to its NabiscoWorld site has made that site appeal more to children older than 12.