U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), a frequent proponent of legislation protecting children, is now taking on a formidable opponent: the snack industry. Matthew Chayes reports that Harkin has introduced legislation that would tighten the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) definition for "foods of minimal nutritional value." Sen.
"McDonald's marketing generals have convened a war council and are hatching a strategy to combat a new attack," reports Advertising Age. The "threat" they face is journalist and author Eric Schlosser. A movie based on Schlosser's 2001 best-seller "Fast Food Nation" comes out later this year, as will his new book, which is aimed at younger readers, "Chew on This: Everything You Don't Want to Know About Fast Food." McDonald's is "worried about a backlash," reports AdAge.
After "a major government-commissioned study found advertising contributes to childhood obesity" and two bills before Congress "proposed regulation of children's advertising," Kraft, "the nation's biggest food company," knew it "risked being depicted as a corporate villain." So, in January, the company "announced it would quit advertising certain products to kids under 12." While some criticized Kraft's continued use of cartoons and questioned whether the company should be able to decide "what's healthy and what isn't," policymakers praised Kraft.
After a survey found that only 10 percent of respondents rated PepsiCo as a company that was "concerned with my health," the soft drink company is launching "a new advertising campaign for its 'Smart Spot' products." Pepsi rates more than 200 of its products as healthier, "Smart Spot" foods, including diet soda and baked potato chips. Pepsi will also launch a pilot project, called "Perfect Storm," later this year, "in a major U.S.
"Soda industry touts school ban to quiet obesity critics," reads the PR Week headline on a story outlining the soft-drink industry's latest defensive move in response to national concerns about childhood obesity.
The American Beverage Association scored PR points recently when they unveiled a new voluntary "school vending policy." The trade association for soft drink manufacturers says it is encouraging beverage producers and school districts to provide "lower-calorie and/or nutritious beverages" to schools and limit the availability of soft drinks in schools. ABA's announcement snagged positive news stories across the country, but public health advocates questioned the group's commitment to preventing childhood obesity.
"With rising rates of childhood obesity and diabetes, you might think that when the federal government convenes a meeting on how food companies market food to kids, talk of how to regulate industry practices might actually be on the agenda. But you'd be wrong," writes Michele Simon. Last week's government conference on food marketing to kids was dominated by the companies themselves.
"Coca-Cola will work with Weber Shandwick this fall to promote its new, seemingly selfless, Live It children's fitness campaign in schools across the country." The PR firm will "focus on generating local publicity for schools that participate in the week-long program." Kirsten Witt, Coke's "nutrition communication manager," said the $4 million Live It campaign would not address childhood obesity or encourage students to dri