Changing the Landscape of the $1.5 Billion Food Marketing Industry

I’m not sure which current epidemic is more concerning: muted kids attaching themselves to iPads, iTouches and other portable technologies as opposed to the dolls and teddy bears that were once named, branded and forever joined at the hip; or the fact that 1 out of 3 of these kids are obese (a BMI of 30 or higher). It’s no coincidence that our addiction to technology trickles down the branch just as eating habits do, so how can we use these new technologies to reach them in a positive way that cannot be ignored or duped as lame?

The food industry spends over $1.5 billion annually to market food to children, however with new FTC regulations, food companies are shifting more money from TV to digital and viral marketing programs. Unfortunately, most of these ads are for unhealthy products, high in sugar, fat, sodium and calories. Now spending a whopping 50% more on mobile, online and viral marketing, they have honed in on these new outlets, encouraging children to send marketing messages to their friends through YouTube, Facebook, and other social media. Food companies have gotten even more creative, with tactics such as advergames to keep kids engaged with the brands as long as possible, sometimes even implementing educational value.

Advergames promote repeated traffic to websites and reinforce brands. What once was a naive child making a phone call to hear his or her future from a professional psychic at $10/hr has now translated into a simple 4 digit text sent from Mom’s phone to get the latest joke for only $5 a day. Kids are getting email accounts as soon as they can read so why wouldn’t they register to get a year supply of their favorite cereal after successfully defending the honey online? These child gamers may also invite their classmates, cousins, and neighbors to participate, helping marketers collect millions of consumer data.

But where are all the healthy foods? Why aren’t those companies taking advantage of these new sources to get their audience’s attention? Expensive television ads are becoming less prevalent so why aren’t the multiple new healthy kids snacking brands honing in on viral marketing the way adult brands have? Don’t children spend over $160 billion a year?

Below is a wonderful example of a healthy food company with an absolutely hilarious 30-second commercial persuading their consumer to buy all natural hormone free beef.

It’s sarcastic, dry humor aimed at mother’s concern as to what she’s feeding her kids.

As a nanny of over 5 years, I think a healthy yet delicious company like Skinny Cow would greatly benefit from children’s video marketing. Cue the friendly farm animal and any child’s excitement for (unknowingly healthy) ice cream and BOOM—you tell me the possibilities.

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