Parents group accuses brands, Salvation Army and Carols in the Domain of promoting unhealthy eating

Lobby group Parents Voice has attacked major brands along with the Salvation Army and Sydney’s annual Carols in the Domain concert for promoting what it views as unhealthy foods and drinks to children.

At its annual Fame and Shame Awards announced in Melbourne this morning, the parents’ group was particularly scathing towards Kellogg’s and Coca-Cola for their marketing practices with the Salvation Army’s Coke Christmas Truck being singled out for criticism.

The Salvation Army launches the 2017 Coke Christmas Truck

Coca-Cola’s Coke Summer took out the organisation’s inaugural Bother Boards award for using interactive billboards in shopping centres in what Parent’s Voice claims is an attempt to influence children.

The group also criticised Coca-Cola for its Powerade Powerscore campaign which featured sporting identities including former Australian cricketer, Mitchell Johnson, and rugby league star, Billy Slater, promoting the energy drinks.

Coca-Cola was also given a dishonourable mention for its Coke Christmas Truck tour of Australia which the company is running in partnership with The Salvation Army.  Parents’ Voice is petitioning to end the truck’s journey before its planned conclusion at Sydney’s Carols in the Domain.

“Parents are angry that despite Coca-Cola stating they don’t market to kids under 12, they are now a major sponsor of Carols in the Domain,” claimed Alice Pryor, Parents’ Voice Campaigns Manager. “The Coke Christmas truck is stealth marketing aimed at Australian kids. This targeting of Australian kids must end.”

A Coca-Cola Australia spokesman rejected Parents’ Voice claims, telling Mumbrella: “It is our long standing policy to not aim or direct any marketing activity from any source to children under the age of 12.

“Specifically this means we will not advertise in any media which directly targets children under 12, including TV, print, websites or any other activity.

“That is why the Coca-Cola Christmas Truck Tour has been carefully planned to comply with our policy of not marketing to children.

“This campaign is really all about working with The Salvos through a series of community events that will deliver food, community facilities and the chance for people to come together with family and friends in the lead up to Christmas.”

A Salvation Army spokesperson told Mumbrella: “The partnership with Coca Cola affords communities in regional and remote towns an opportunity to experience a unique Christmas event.

“We have worked closely with Coca Cola in identifying communities where The Salvation Army is well established, allowing us to tailor experiences for each local town. The partnership enables The Salvation Army to the bring the hope and joy of Christmas, along with sustainable gifts, to areas that may miss out on such an experience.”

Carols in the Domain organisers, Active TV, emphasised the healthy eating aspect of their event with a spokesperson telling Mumbrella: “At Woolworths Carols in the Domain we are proud to say that we cater for all ages and dietary requirements.

“Coca Cola will be for sale on the evening, along with fruit juice, mineral water, and other healthy beverage and food options. We also provide free water on site.

“Woolworths Carols in the Domain could not remain a free event, without the generous support of our valued partners. We look forward to welcoming the people of Sydney and New South Wales to The Domain, so they can enjoy a magical festive concert with family and friends.”

Kellogg’s also received two awards, with its Halloween augmented reality partnership with Shazam receiving the Digital Ninja prize for being the digital media campaign most obviously targeting children and driving active participation in the brand. “Kellogg’s has once again disregarded the health of Australian children by developing campaigns which target a young audience,” said Pryor.

Kellogg’s Australian PR manager Derek Lau rejected the allegations, telling Mumbrella: “We disagree the Halloween promotion targets children. The content is activated through the Shazam app and you have to be 13 and over to use it, so this is clearly targeted at mums and teens.”

Kellogg’s claims the statement of LCMs containing no artificial colours and flavours is ‘factually correct’

The second award given to Kellogg’s was for promoting LCM snacks as a healthy kid’s lunchbox item: “Despite the featured LCMs bars scoring as low as 0.5 health stars, Kellogg’s has presented them as an appropriate everyday addition to lunchboxes,” Ms Pryor stated.

Kellogg’s also disputed these claims with Lau saying: “The claim of ‘no artificial colours/flavours’ in the ad is truthful and factually correct.

“Parents’ Voice is wrong in shaming the LCMs ad for misleading claims. LCMs were all represented as part of a healthy balanced lunchbox while the voiceover spoke to mum as the target audience.

“It’s disappointing to see LCMs unfairly targeted for misleading product claims when there were none.”

Parents’ Voice previously gave the same award to Kellogg’s LCM in 2010.

The final award went to McDonald’s’ Made for Family/Despicable Me 3 Family Box commercial for pester power. Featuring a young boy wearing a minion bodysuit and visiting McDonald’s, the ad further calls into the question the motivations of a company found to account for 47 per cent of all unhealthy food advertisements on primetime television

Parents’ Voice did give some positive awards, lauding Aussie Apples’ Get Your Crunch On campaign and the brand’s partnership with Aldi for the MiniRoos campaign it ran with Netball Australia and junior soccer.

“While it’s disappointing a new Shame category was added this year, it’s great to also recognise the companies making a positive difference to the health of the community,” Pryor concluded.



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