Marketing Food & Beverages to Kids in School: Ethical?

For the past decade, children and teenagers have been a huge market force in the food and beverage industry. Young people have caught the interest of these marketing techniques because of their influence on each other and their parents, overall spending power, and the fact that they are going to be future adult consumers as well. So, the real question is, with the rise in obesity and long-term health problems, is this marketing ethical?

Most foods that are marketed towards children and teenagers are very unhealthy. Many of these marketing companies are focusing on throwing these advertisements in schools, clubs, on the internet, and on products that have well-known brand logos.

Healthy nutrition is one of the most important aspects in growth and development. Eating these sugar and fat loaded foods that have been advertised to these kids can damage them long-term and increase their risk of diseases.

Everybody knows that childhood obesity is a major public health concern these days, so why allow these companies to even attempt to target them while in a public school setting? Shouldn’t their minds be filled with educational information instead of thinking about the greasy cheeseburgers they plan to consume at lunch or the double chocolate rice crispy bar they are going to purchase from vending machine?

It is understandable to assume these companies want to raise brand awareness for their product. Are there any other ways to do so without drilling these unhealthy products in their brain on a daily basis? It’s one thing to have an ad on the screen-saver mode on school computers, but when they are on the school’s athletic scoreboards, gym banners, school newspapers, yearbooks, and sometimes even on the school athletes warm up outfits and school buses, have we gone too far?

It’s quite obvious that the food and beverage industry have used children as one of their biggest driving forces of marketing. Although their goals are to grow in brand awareness, brand loyalty, and brand preference, it seems these goals are possibly causing a serious health risk in the United States.

Not only is the marketed foods and beverages unhealthy, but it makes these kids more susceptible to the effects of marketing then that of their parents. These children do not understand that commercials and internet ads are created to sell products, so they cannot evaluate these advertisements truly based on experience or the knowledge that they are supposed to be learning at school.

-Steve the Intern

*The views of the author don’t necessarily reflect the views of Ciconte Consulting.