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ICYMI: State Attorneys Urged to Take on Digital Food Marketing


Our friends at the Public Health Advocacy Institute (PHAI), Center for Digital Democracy and Berkeley Media Studies Group released a must-read report in late December studying the “state legal approaches available to stem the harmful tide of digital food marketing targeted at children and teens.”

Digital food marketing is considered among the most dangerous ways food and beverage companies are advertising unhealthy products to young people. Invasive marketing efforts such as interactive websites, advergames, contests, mobile applications and online viral marketing campaigns are designed to get children and teens to request and consume unhealthy food and beverage products.

Many legal and child development experts believe marketing to children is inappropriate, and is especially deceptive for children under the age of 8, who cannot understand the persuasive intent of advertising.

The new report is designed to help state attorneys and other advocates reduce this pervasive marketing by using state consumer protection law, which grant state attorneys general the authority to protect consumers from deceptive marketing.

“There is a general failure to understand the disturbing marketing practices that are becoming commonplace in the digital marketing world,” said Mark Gottlieb, PHAI’s executive director. “This report goes a long way toward closing the knowledge gap between those using powerful technology to sell junk to kids and those who have the responsibility to protect them.”

Now it’s up to state attorneys general to step up, according to Cara Wilking, PHAI’s senior staff attorney who authored the report. “State attorneys general are in a unique position to leverage state law approaches to stop unfair, deceptive, or otherwise illegal digital marketing of unhealthy foods to our youngest and most vulnerable consumers,” she said.

Click here to read the full report.