Despite 2006 “Pledge,” Fast Food Companies Targeting Kids More Than Ever

PRWatch.org, Nov. 8, 2010

Children as young as two years old are seeing more fast food ads than ever before. Researchers found that in 2009, preschoolers saw 56 percent more ads for Subway, 21 percent more ads for McDonalds and 9 percent more ads for Burger King than they did in 2007. Older kids saw even more fast food ads, and African-American youth were exposed to at least 50 percent more fast food ads than white youth.

Fast food companies have also moved beyond television ads in their advertising practices, and now use social media to reach kids. For example, McDonalds has 13 Web sites that get 365,000 unique child visitors between the ages of 2 and 11, and 294,000 unique visits from teens ages 12 to 18 every month. McDonalds starts targeting kids as young as age two with websites like Ronald.com. McDonalds and Burger King have even created sophisticated “advergames” and online “virtual worlds” that engage children, like HappyMeal.com, McWorld.com and ClubBK.com.

The Yale study confirms, yet again, that when an industry imposes a voluntary code of conduct on itself, it is time for real and effective regulation of harmful corporate behavior. Voluntary codes are smokescreens.

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