‘Advergames’ A New Front In FIGHT Childhood Obesity

Jennifer Harris, a senior research scientist and director of marketing initiatives at the Rudd Center and a research scientist at UConn’s Center for Health, Intervention, and Prevention. Unlike 30-second advertisements on TV, the videos and top quality games published on digital press mean to employ children for an extended amount of time.

Harris, a former international marketing professional for American Express with a doctorate in public psychology, is responsible for the Rudd Center’s research initiatives to comprehend the level and impact of children’s exposure to food advertising. She says the techniques companies are employing now derive from the latest consumer mindset.

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At onetime, companies used advertising exclusively to promote that which was in their products – showing how good an item tastes or how healthy it was for you, she says. But recently, companies have been producing advertisements that are designed to resonate with consumers on the deeper psychological level. The intention of the advertisement is to produce good emotions; hyping the real product is secondary.

Coca-Cola, for example, has launched an advertising campaign called “Open Happiness.” McDonald’s takes a similar approach using its “I’m Loving It” advertising campaign. Creating those types of positive organizations is appropriate for adults, who’ve the capability to rationally evaluate the advertising for what it is and bother making a choice. Children though, are different.

Most troubling to Harris is the fact that some companies are motivating children to spread the term about their products among their friends. Rudd research workers like Harris and other advocates continue steadily to make inroads in the combat to avoid companies from advertising harmful products to children. But improvement, admittedly, has been steady.

In response to open public pressure, companies like McDonald’s, Burger King, Coca-Cola, and General Mills have pledged to self control their industry by becoming a member of the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, or CFBAI. The effort was created to shift the mixture of foods promoted to children under 12 to encourage healthier options. When requesting advice in what parents can do to overcome the new digital pattern in advertising to children, Harris suggests parents keep all forms of media out of the bedroom – TV, computers, mobile phones, tablets – everything. She also suggests withholding commercial television from very young children until as past due as you can.

Research shows that children as young as two and three are being exposed to the same amount of TV as six- and seven-year-olds, she says. Even if the children are viewing child-based systems like Nickelodeon, the advertising still seeps in. She suggests offering small children alternatives like DVDs or public TV without commercials. Exposure to candy ads more than doubled for children and adolescents from 2007 to 2013, an increase of 270 ads viewed per year by children and an additional 535 ads for adolescents. In 2009 2009, 1 approximately.2 million children ages 6 to 11 visited food company websites that contained games.