Ben & Jerry's Maker Not to Target Kids Under 12 Any More -- Is It Long Overdue?

source: Instagram

Unilever, the consumer packaged goods company behind Ben & Jerry's and Klondike, has announced changes in its marketing policy towards children. It will no longer target marketing communications to kids under 12 in an attempt to fight childhood obesity.

The new policy will apply to all food and beverage products, the company said, adding that it will take into account both the content of the advertising and its placement.

For instance, for television and other measurable media, Unilever will not run ads where kids under 12 represent over 25% of the audience. As for the content, the firm stated that its marketing communications would not be designed to focus on children under 12.

Furthermore, the packaged goods giant will also not direct any social media at kids under 13, in line with the policy of Facebook and Instagram not to allow users under this age. 

In addition, Unilever will also amend its influencers' policy accordingly. The company will no longer use influencers under the age of 12. 

However, the firm will feature kids under 12 in its marketing materials only if the product has met "high nutritional standards" or if it is relevant to the marketing message, such as a family activity.

The company will also limit the use of licensed cartoon characters to point-of-sale communications such as in-store displays or ice cream freezers. The firm admitted it previously used such characters in its marketing messages.

The deadline for compliance with the newly-approved marketing principles is the end of 2020, the firm noted.

In a blog post, Unilever explained that according to a World Health Organization report, childhood obesity is among the most severe public health issues of our time.

Therefore, the company designed its new marketing strategy in such a way that it can help parents, caregivers, and kids to make informed choices about the foods and drinks they buy. 

Matt Close, the vice president of Unilever's ice cream unit, commented that the firm has committed to make and market products to children responsibly. Close also promised that Unilever's ice creams would become better and healthier in time.

Unilever is not the first company to limit advertising to products to kids under 12. General Mills, the firm behind brands such as Totino's, Haagen-Dazs, and Yoplait, already said it does not direct any marketing to minors under 12 unless it meets ''strict nutritional requirements.'' 

What do you think? Should other companies follow Unilever's suit?