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FTC to Get Mouthful on Guidelines

Marketing food to kids may never be the same

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If government regulators get their way, marketing food to kids—a $1.6 billion annual business—will never be the same.

Under proposed guidelines published last month by the Federal Trade Commission, ads targeting children 17 and under will be limited to products that have the right ingredient profile. Comments on the voluntary guidelines are due July 14, but this week regulators will hold a forum for stakeholders to comment on the proposal. They’re expected to get an earful from the advertising community, which finds the rules draconian.

“The nutritional criteria . . . are highly unrealistic,” said a Campbell Soup representative via email.

“They’re asking the whole industry to change behavior, and they’re using old data to justify it,” says Dan Jaffe, evp, Association of National Advertisers, who will represent advertisers at Tuesday’s forum.

Since 2006, advertisers representing 70 percent to 80 percent of all ads targeting children changed products and messaging as part of a self-regulatory program. Though the guidelines are voluntary, advertisers are worried it could go further. “There is the force of regulation behind it,” Jaffe says.