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PRODUCT PLACEMENT: stealthy and unhealthy

Media Minister Ben Bradshaw has announced a consultation on a proposal to lift the current ban on product placement in UK-made TV programmes from early 2010. As one of the 300 member organisations of the Children’s Food Campaign we will be opposing this covert form of marketing of junk food to children, who will not be able to differentiate the advertising from the storyline. Bradshaw’s precedessor, Andy Burnham, said product placement “contaminates our programmes.” Like commercially sponsored education materials, it blurs the boundaries between advertising and editorial. Surveys show that 91% of people oppose this form of influencing children. While product placement will not be allowed during “children’s programming” 71% of children’s viewing is outside ‘children’s’ airtime.

ACTION: The showing of Infant formula brands should be banned by the UK reguations, but follow-on milks will not be. As the City of Joy example (left) shows, product placement can change storylines. When responding to the consultation remember to include all branded baby milks and foods: childrensfoodcampaign/product_placement

In the 1992 film City of Joy, Patrick Swayze (who sadly died last month) played an american doctor working in a Calcutta slum. In the above scene he hands a mother of a malnourished infant (her hands stunted by leprosy) two cans of Nestlé Lactogen infant formula. This scene was not in the original book so we wrote to the Director, Roland Joffé, who denied it was product placement.

Watch at:

  • In June 2009 a Dutch national government Senior High school examination for18-year-olds included a question (forming 25% of the exam) based on a Nutricia infant formula, Nenatal, complete with registered trademark signs, promotional language irrelevant to the scientific content of the question. Download our briefing: Tackling Obesity, How companies use education to Build Trust and our education pack, Seeing through the Spin.


Party Conferences

John Redwood (who, as Secretary of State for Wales, signed the 1995 Infant Formula Regulations and was allegedly responsible for weakening them) spoke at a Conservative Fringe Meeting, From Brussels to Business: How do we break the Red Tape Stranglehold on UK PLC? in October.

He proposed a regulatory ‘budget’ aiming to cut the costs of regulations by 20% over the lifetime of Parliament. We asked if we could be confident that a Tory Government would respect essential regulation (such as the International Code) which protects child health. He assured us that essential laws would be retained, but warned that every regulation has to be examined for ‘side effects.’ He couldn’t remember his role in the 1995 Regulations.


EU election posters

EU PosterThe European Parliament responded to the many people who complained about posters and cards promoting the May election with the above image by saying:

“I can assure you that your views have been noted and that it is unfortunate that this image has been interpreted by some as encouraging bottle- feeding. This was never the intention.”

See more on the Campaign and Networking Coordinator's blog: Did you unfortunately object to the EU feeding bottle image?

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