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WHO/Europe report: Marketing of foods to children, update 2012–2013

The report Marketing of foods high in fat, salt and sugar to children: update 2012–2013 has been released this month by the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe. It provides information on the marketing of foods and beverages to children and the changes that have occurred in the last decade, examining the evolution of marketing methods in parallel with changes in media platforms, such as digital television, online marketing, mobiles and smartphones, and social networking.

The report shows that television is still the most frequently used medium for advertising all types of goods and service, but internet and digital advertising has increased rapidly during the last decade and is expected to be a significant medium in the coming years (see Figure 1 below). Internet spending is expected to rise from 20% of total advertising expenditure to 30% over the period 2010–2015, by which time it is predicted to be worth some US$ 38 billion out of a total of US$ 126 billion spent on all advertising in western Europe.

Clipboard01While we can see that internet spending is increasing, overall spending on advertisement has been decreasing. However, the report highlights that reduction in spending does not imply reduced quantity of advertising. What is happening is a reduction on the average costs of advertising, due to the rise in the number of TV channels and expanding new media opportunities. For example, in the United Kingdom the number of TV impacts (one person seeing one advertisement) rose by 21%, from 790 billion impacts in 2006 to 956 billion impacts in 2010.


Among the emerging media and techniques to advertise food and beverages to children, the report indicates the following:

  • Placement of online advertising

    (on search engines, social networking sites, news sites, music sites and blogs, and also in films and media clips viewed online)

  • Product placement and branding (Product placement in scheduled TV and radio programmes, films, computer games, downloadable “apps”)
  • Sponsorship (Celebrity product endorsement, sponsorship of TV and radio programmes, music videos)
  • ‘Advergaming’ (Branding and advertising embedded in video games and interactive fantasy worlds, available online or for downloading)


To download the report and read more, visit WHO/Europe website.


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