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McDonalds scores a hat trick in the Parents Jury's Ad Awards

Friday 5 October, 2007

Parents have expressed their objection to McDonalds Happy Meal ads for the third year running. The Spongebob Squarepants Happy Meal ad was voted the outright winner in the Pester Power Award category announced in Melbourne today at the 3rd annual Children's TV Food Advertising Awards.

Members of the Parents Jury were invited to vote for TV food ads in three categories. The Pester Power Award was awarded to McDonalds for having the most manipulative food ad on television. Professor Boyd Swinburn from Deakin University says this outcome clearly highlights the continuing frustrations parents have about toys being used as marketing gimmicks for unhealthy foods.

"The message is loud and clear. Parents are fed up having to contend with McDonalds enticing their children to want its food by using free toy giveaways. Parents have enough pressures to deal with these days without this kind of manipulation," he said.

The Parents Jury gave its tick of approval this year to Woolworths', awarding the Parents Choice award to its Fresh Fruit Kids ad. Mother of three and Parents Jury member, Jacqi Deighan said members voted overwhelmingly in support of Woolworth's new ad.

"It's great to see an ad on television that not only promotes healthy food, but also shows just how easy it is for kids to get in the kitchen with mum or dad and prepare their own healthy snacks," Jacqi explained.

The Smoke and Mirrors Award went to Kelloggs Coco Pops Coco Rocks ad for being the most misleading. Parents Jury members criticised the ad for giving the impression it is a healthy choice for their children. The ad highlights the cereal's high wholegrain and fibre content and as a result diverts parent's attention from the fact that it is almost a third sugar. Parents felt that the ad was highly deceptive as the product is not an appropriate cereal for children to eat every day and that its sugar content is more in line with the classification of a confectionery product.

Prof. Swinburn says food and drink companies often use clever wording and phrases in their ads to make their product sound healthier than it actually is.

"This kind of smoke and mirrors marketing is a concern for parents who are trying to do the right thing and are looking for healthier alternatives, but in fact, it is extremely deceptive," he said.

The Parents Jury
The Parents Jury is a web-based forum for parents to voice their views and collectively advocate for the improvement of children's food and physical activity environments. The group now has 2900 members. The Parents Jury is supported by Diabetes Australia - Vic, The Cancer Council Australia and its member organisations, the Australasian Society for the Study of Obesity and VicHealth.

Parents Jury spokespeople are available for interview by contacting:
Simone Fenech - Media and Communications ph: 0402 448 438
Justine Hodge - The Parents Jury Manager ph: 03 9667 1742
Emma Fay - Media Coordinator, The Cancer Council Victoria ph: 0415 477 537

2007 Children's TV Food Advertising Awards
Questions and Answers
What are the Children's TV Food Advertising Awards?

This is the third year that The Children's TV Food Advertising Awards have been held, giving parents the opportunity to nominate and vote for their best and worst food advertisements shown during children's TV viewing hours.The Awards present an ideal opportunity for parents to express their concerns about TV food advertising and to raise awareness on this important issue.

What do the Awards aim to achieve?
The Awards aim to raise awareness of the persuasive and misleading techniques used by advertisers to sell unhealthy food and beverages to children, and to recognise the advertisements that promote healthy food to children in a fun and appealing way.
What does The Parents Jury want to happen with food advertising on television?

The Parents Jury is calling for a complete ban on the advertising of unhealthy foods and beverages during children's TV programs and up until 9.00 pm in the evening when many children are still watching. The Parents Jury has provided a submission to the current review of the Children's TV Standards calling for tighter government regulation on the advertising of foods to children.

Why is The Parents Jury concerned with unhealthy food advertising?

Australian children face a barrage of advertisements for confectionery and snack food products every time they switch on commercial television. They are exposed to more food advertisements than children in any other country in the world. Over 75 per cent of food advertisements shown during children's viewing time are for unhealthy foods like confectionery, sweetened breakfast cereals and fast food.

What does The Parents Jury think about other types of food marketing?

Twenty-first century marketers spend millions of dollars each year conjuring up new and creative ways to lure children into buying their unhealthy foods. Media savvy kids are finding food marketing popping up on their mobile phones, gaming sites and email screens. Sadly, most of the foods being promoted to children are high in fat, sugar or salt.‘Trial by Jury' is an initiative of The Parents Jury that gives parents the opportunity to speak out about the food marketing tactics and strategies that either get their back up, or that they like their children to see because they encourage healthy eating. Trial by Jury promises to expose all types of food marketing aimed at children including; television advertising, supermarket promotions, magazine giveaways, on-pack promotions including endorsements by celebrities and cartoon characters, viral marketing and text message marketing.

What is The Parents Jury?

The Parents Jury is a web-based network of parents who are interested in improving the nutrition and physical activity environments of Australian children. It provides a forum for parents to express their views and to collectively advocate for change on current issues relating to nutrition and physical activity.

What are the key areas The Parents Jury campaigns on?

The Parents Jury's key issues are determined by its members. The key campaign areas currently are:· Food marketing to children· Healthy schools· Physical activity for children· Healthy supermarket checkouts

How many members does The Parents Jury have?

The Parents Jury has over 2850 members. The Parents Jury is an Australia-wide initiative with members in all states and territories.

When was The Parents Jury formed?

The Parents Jury was formed in August 2004.

Who co-ordinates The Parents Jury?

The Parents Jury is supported by Diabetes Australia - Vic, The Cancer Council Australia and its member organisations, the Australasian Society for the Study of Obesity and VicHealth.

Who can join The Parents Jury?

The Parents Jury is open to Australian parents, grandparents and guardians of children aged 18 or under. Membership is free. You can register online at

What is involved in being a member of The Parents Jury?

As a member, parents are eligible to vote in online and to submit their comments and views on topical issues relating to nutrition and physical activity. Members receive a fortnightly email update containing links to current news articles from around the world, and are kept informed about all activities that The Parents Jury is undertaking.