August 29th, 2013

Forget the Food: Fast Food Ads Aimed at Kids Feature Lots of Giveaways

By Alexandra Sifferlin
Time Health and Family

There’s nothing like a picture of a steaming, juicy burger to send hungry folks to the nearest drive-thru, right? Not if you’re a kid. For them, toys and other giveaways are just as effective — which is why such marketing tactics are so troubling.

A new study published in journal PLOS One revealed that compared to nationally televised advertisements from leading fast food restaurants targeted at adults, those that marketed kids’ meals were more likely to include toy and other giveaways, and less likely to feature the food products sold at these chains. Between 2009 and 2010, when the scientists conducted their analysis, nearly all of the fast food ads –99%–that were aired nationally on children’s TV channels such as Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, were from McDonald’s and Burger King, and 70% of them included toy giveaways, frequently linked to child-friendly movies, to promote their product.

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