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Is Digital Marketing Worsening Childhood Obesity?

Updated: Sep 24, 2021

Social Media Marketing and Mobile Applications are having detrimental effects on the adolescent consumer. A recent analysis of three leading Australian fast-food companies has revealed the frequency of digital promotions served to minors.

Image Adapted from Unsplash Images. 2021: Credit: Berg, Brandon [12 September 2021]

Over a period of one month, Coca-Cola, Cadbury, and McDonalds released twenty-one promotional activities. These initially seemed to have followed the minimal regulatory guidelines however, post-analysis all twenty-one were later classified as “primarily being targeted toward children”. The following break down further details these activities:

· Coco-Cola released thirteen advertisements directly targeted toward children.

· Cadbury released four advertisements directly targeted toward children.

· And McDonalds released four advertisements directly targeted toward children.

An example of this exploitation is large portions of company websites and digital promotions solely dedicated to child interaction and manipulation, including group activities and games such as:

- Magic Coke Bottle Challenge, Joy Ville, Pickle Club Facebook Group, Win a Dream Give a Dream, and The Big Mac Farm Challenge.

Websites, Facebook, and Mobile Applications form part of the top “additional touchpoints” for the marketing of unhealthy food and beverage items to children. Shockingly, all three mediums are poorly regulated, with Mobile Applications not currently listed on the Australian Marketing Regulatory Code, resulting in a self-regulating industry.

Previously, restrictions have been placed on such activities, but most of the focus surrounded broadcast media such as radio and TV, which still remain a concern however, most children can digest TV content as either entertainment or commercials. Currently, with the emergence of newer, immersive media, the marketing of these products is exploiting minors and contributing to unhealthy eating habits and obesity.

Due to the nature of these engaging digital media avenues as well as the lack of government regulation, modern strategies must be implemented to avoid the exploitation of the adolescent mind. The uniqueness of digital platforms leaves minors unable to differentiate between commercial intent or entertainment resulting in easy manipulation, influence, and addiction.

10485048 #ECUindustryreadyproject, #ECUMKT5325, #DigitalMarketingTrends, #DigitalConsumers (Disclaimer: This content is for the sole purpose of teaching and learning at Edith Cowan University).

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