The Cancer Council, which is embroiled in a fight with big tobacco about the plain packaging of cigarettes, has aimed its sights on cartoon characters used by brands to promote sugary and fatty foods.
Cancer Council NSW has joined forces with the Obesity Policy Coalition and The Parents’ Jury in a bid to ban promotional characters such as the Coco Pops monkey and the Paddle Pop lion, according to an article in yesterday’s The Sunday Telegraph.
Kathy Chapman, a Cancer Council nutritionist, did not call for packaging on unhealthy foods to be made plain, but called for more regulation around marketing to children.
In a statement issued to Mumbrella, Kellogg’s, which makes Coco Pops and Froot Loops, said:
Our products that the Cancer Council has chosen to focus on are marketed as treat products. Cereals that parents can choose to provide to kids on fun or special occasions such as school holidays and birthdays.
The company added that the Coco Pops monkeys has not been used in advertising in Australia since 2005, while advertising spend on Fruit Loops is minimal.
A Kellogg’s spokesperson added:
Kellogg’s advertising is aimed at mums. We know from talking to Australian mums that there is a nostalgia around some of our characters such as Snap Crackle and Pop or Coco the Monkey which were introduced over 50 years ago. These characters continue to be the images you see on pack, as they have a soft spot in people’s hearts.
The Australian Food and Grocery Council has waded into the debate too, claiming that the industry had already stopped using licensed characters to advertise unhealthy foods to children under the Responsible Children’s Marketing Initiative.