Seven guilty of 72 breaches of the rules on advertising McDonald’s to children

The Seven Network has been criticised by the Australian Communications and Media Authority for breaching restrictions on advertising to children more than 70 times.

Despite the McDonald’s messaging being in Seven station branding rather than a TVC, ACMA classified this as advertising.

The footage – from the Playland campaign – featured  an adult-sized McDonald’s playground, in which McDonald’s characters Grimace and Hamburgler appeared, during children’s viewing times. The breaches occurred in October and November 2010.

seven_mcdonaldsThe Playland campaign was created by ad agency DDB with media agency OMD behind the media planning. The  playground appeared at Customs House at Sydney’s Circular Quay.

The Children’s Television Standards (CTS) 2009 bans any advertising during preschool viewing periods, and restricts the kinds of advertising that can be run during children’s viewing periods.

According to ACMA:

The breaches occurred when a Seven Network ‘station identifier’ was broadcast during protected children’s programming periods in October and November 2010. The majority of this identifier was footage taken in an ‘adult sized’ McDonald’s playground which included prominent representations of McDonald’s proprietary characters and McDonald’s brand identifier, ‘the Golden Arches.’

ACMA ruled that not only was the messagingat the wrong time of day, but that it was not clearly distinguishable as an ad to a child viewer.

A Seven spokesman told Mumbrella: “We accept ACMA’s finding and are implementing steps as discussed with the regulator to improve our processes.”

ACMA found that Seven was guilty of broadcasting an ad that was not clearly idenfifiable as such to children on 33 occasions. It also found that it wronglyused the Hamburglar and Grimace characters at protected times of the day 39 times.

There was no financial sanction against Seven. According to ACMA: “The remedial direction requires the five Seven Network licensees to implement a process for reviewing all non-program material that will be broadcast during P programming periods and to conduct specific CTS training for appropriate employees.”

ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said: “The ACMA remains serious about the protection of children during children’s programming, particularly given their vulnerability to forms of advertising that are not well signposted or have the potential to be unduly influential.”

McDonald’s issued the following statement: “We are extremely disappointed that the identifier was placed during C and P viewing periods. This advertisement was not produced by McDonald’s but was produced and placed by Channel 7. We were not aware nor did we authorise the use of this footage during C and P times.:

“We take very seriously our commitment to responsible advertising where children are concerned. As founding members of the QSR Initiative for Responsible Advertising and Marketing to Children, any advertising to children strictly only promotes our healthier options, which adhere to specific criteria for energy, saturated fat, sugar and sodium.”


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