Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity

Food Marketing Practices



Have you seen a best or worst food marketing practice? Send them to the Rudd Center.

Best Food Marketing Practices:

Birds Eye partners with Nickelodeon’s ‘iCarly’ series

November 2012
As part of a commitment to the Partnership for a Healthier America, the effort championed by Michelle Obama to combat childhood obesity, Birds Eye has teamed up with Nickelodeon’s “iCarly” series to increase children’s vegetable consumption. The main feature of the kid-friendly marketing campaign is an online contest in which kids will be encouraged to develop unconventional new recipes for vegetables. The initiative also includes print, in-store and digital advertising, as well as a sweepstakes offering a grand prize trip to Los Angeles to visit the set of the “iCarly” show. Birds Eye announced in May that it would spend at least $2 million annually through 2014 on marketing and advertising that encourages children to eat vegetables.

Green Giant encourages veggie pledge

September 2012
The Green Giant vegetable brand has launched a marketing campaign to encourage children and families to increase their fruit and vegetable consumption. The “One Giant Pledge” focuses on eating at least one vegetable each day for a month, and will be advertised through tv commercials, the brand’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, and through promotional activities such as an interactive event at Grand Central Terminal in NYC on October 2. The campaign includes helpful tools such as progress-tracking calendars and helpful text tips for parents. The first 10,000 children to sign the pledge will also be rewarded with a special wristband.

Pistachio nuts partner with ‘Frankenweenie’ film

September 2012
Wonderful Pistachios is promoting pistachio nuts in conjunction with Disney’s PG-rated ‘Frankenweenie’ film. Leading up to the release, commercials for the promotional partnership will play in theaters before 3-D films. Specialty product packaging features reward codes that can be entered online for a chance to win certificates to the film, and special promo videos and related materials can also be seen on YouTube and Facebook. Pistachio nuts are naturally rich in vitamins and fiber.




Worst Food Marketing Practices:

Beyonce signs mega-contract with Pepsi

December 2012
Beyonce recently provided her star power to aid Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign, encouraging kids to eat well and be active. Now, the new mother is using her star power to promote something quite different. Through a $50 million marketing campaign with Pepsi, she will appear in commercials, sing in the Super Bowl halftime show, and limited edition cans will even be emblazoned with Beyonce’s face. The super star has universal appeal, but her partnership with the sugary soda is especially troubling considering the prevalence of diet-related disease among African Americans, who are 50% more likely than whites to be obese, and particularly African American children, 50% of whom born in the year 2000 will develop diabetes in their lifetime.

Coke promotes kid-friendly merchandise despite pledge

December 2012
In accordance with the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), Coke has pledged not to engage in marketing practices aimed at children under 12. Yet the Coca-Cola online store offers a plethora of Coke-branded plush animals, games, sports equipment, and even a “Kids’ Apparel” section; all items feature the company’s logo. The marketing isn’t just happening online, either. In-store promotions also target children, such as a current promotion in Target stores that rewards consumers who purchase 3 Coke products with a free Coke-branded plush polar bear. Practices such as this clearly conflict with the company’s CFBAI pledge.

Frito-Lay adds caffeine to popular children’s snack food

November 2012
Pepsico’s Frito-Lay is planning to introduce Cracker Jack’D with caffeine, a line extension of the children’s snack food, Cracker Jacks. The product is being marketed online as "a twist off sailor Jack's world famous Cracker Jack Popcorn." Each 2 oz. package of Cracker Jack’D Power Bites is expected to contain 70 mg of caffeine, equivalent to a 6 oz. cup of coffee. The American Academy of Pediatrics says children should not consume caffeine because of the potentially harmful effects on the developing neurologic and cardiovascular systems and the risk of physical dependence and addiction. Though Frito-Lay claims this product will not be marketed to children, adding caffeine to a product known for having a toy surprise inside could easily mislead consumers to believe it is a snack suitable for kids.