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MARKETING ETHICS

Unilever plans to stop marketing food products to children under 16

By our News Team | 2022

Company says it recognises that younger children are increasingly exposed to online promotional content from a broad range of industries.

Global FMCG giant Unilever – which includes brands such as Ola, Magnum and Cornetto ice cream in its stable – has announced that it will stop marketing its food and beverage products to children under 16.

The change, which is applicable to all international markets, comes into effect from 1 January next year.

“In our connected world, children learn online,” the company said in a statement released yesterday (Thursday). 

“At 12–13 years of age, on average, a child gets their first smartphone. From 13, they can enter the world of social media, creating their own content and engaging with and following influencers on platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, YouTube or Facebook.

Marketing Ethics

Photo by Cleyder Duque from Pexels

“We understand that children are increasingly exposed to online promotional content from a broad range of industries. So … Unilever will stop marketing and advertising food and beverages to children under the age of 16 years old across both traditional media and social media channels.”

Relevant local laws and standards will also be met

The statement added that Unilever’s marketing and point-of-sale communications would also comply with all relevant country laws and regulations as well as self-regulatory codes. 

“In some markets – including, for example, the UK and Portugal – existing codes and laws mean that these new principles are already either partially met, fully met or exceeded. But for most countries across the globe this is a major step forward.”

The company’s new key principles for responsible marketing to children are as follows:

  • We will not target children under 16 years old with any marketing or social media communications.
  • We will not collect or store data on children under 16.
  • We will not use influencers, celebrities or social media stars who are under the age of 16, or primarily appeal to children under the age of 16.
  • We will provide clear and prominent disclosure of our provisions to influencers and limit child appeal to influencer content.
  • We will continue to refrain from promoting our brands or products in schools, with the exception of participation in educational campaigns when specifically requested.

“We believe that people deserve a treat from time to time,” said Matt Close, Unilever’s President of Ice Cream. “We are committed to market these treats responsibly. That means we need to recognise the power of social media and influencer marketing on children’s choices – and address it.”

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