Which? report angers fast-food companies

30 November 2006 by
Which? report angers fast-food companies

Fast-food operators have reacted angrily to a report by consumer group Which? that accuses them of using "underhand" marketing tactics to push foods high in fat, sugar and salt to children.

The Food Fables: Exploding Industry Myths on Responsible Food Marketing to Kids report attacks devices being used by 12 fast-food companies, including McDonald's, KFC and Burger King.

It highlights a range of marketing strategies - including viral advertising, TV sponsorship, competitions and toy promotions - that are still being utilised, despite Ofcom's imminent ban on junk food ads during TV programmes targeted at under-16s.

"Food marketers are treating children as blank canvases on which to paint their branding," said Nick Stace, campaigns and communications director at Which?. "Most of their so-called responsible marketing policies are simply empty rhetoric."

However, fast-food operators and industry bodies have rejected the report, arguing the attack is unconstructive.

McDonald's said the report contained "misleading" information and was "out of date". A spokesman said: "We completely reject the notion that any of the methods by which we advertise are underhand or that we market so-called junk food to children."

Burger King, which recently launched its "Are you man enough?" campaign to promote its XL Double Whopper, announced it was to stop advertising during kids' programmes earlier this month.

KFC said it had recently decided to end all children's toy promotions. The company said it had not targeted children through advertising since 2004. "The Which? report misrepresents KFC's policies and includes factual inaccuracies," a KFC spokeswoman said.

Food and Drink Federation director of communication Julian Hunt added: "It's disappointing that rather than work in this spirit of cooperation and partnership, Which? has decided to generate cheap headlines, which won't really help to take the debate forward."

Companies featured in the Which? Report

  • Burger King
  • Cadbury Schweppes
  • Coca-Cola
  • Haribo
  • Kellogg's
  • KFC
  • Kraft
  • Masterfoods
  • McDonald's
  • Nestlé
  • PepsiCo
  • Weetabix

By Kerstin Kühn

E-mail your comments to Kerstin Kühn here.

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