Marketing & advertising to children
We’re committed to promoting healthy diets, by providing more nutritious products and marketing them responsibly, especially for children.
A leading force for responsible marketing
We’re committed to promoting healthy diets, not just by providing more nutritious products but also by marketing and advertising them responsibly, especially to children.
In 2003, we were one of the first companies to apply our own principles to the marketing and advertising of all our food and beverage products (PDF | 308KB). These principles require, for example, that our marketing messages are appropriate in the light of obesity issues (such as avoiding the depiction of over-sized portions) and that our marketing materials exclude anything that undermines the promotion of healthy, balanced diets and healthy, active lifestyles. The principles are applicable to all of Unilever’s food and beverage marketing activities and communications globally and have been reviewed and updated regularly.
See Unilever's Global Principles for Responsible Food and Beverage Marketing in Downloads.
Going the extra mile – especially for kids
In addition to these general principles, we also adhere to additional principles on the responsible marketing and advertising of foods and refreshments to children.
In February 2020, we updated our industry-leading principles on marketing to children (PDF | 2MB). These apply to all food and beverages products, and their implementation is led by Unilever’s ice cream business. Highlights include:
- We will stop all Marketing Communications to children under 12 years of age in traditional media like TV and radio, and to under 13 in social media. Previously, we still allowed Marketing Communications for products that meet our Highest Nutritional Standards (HNS).
- For our measured media channels, we are also decreasing the audience representation (children aged under 12) from 35% to 25%.
- We will stop the use of influencers who are under the age of 12 themselves, and we also won’t use influencers who appeal to kids under the age of 12. This is a new principle.
- We’re limiting the use of characters like cartoons and brand-equity characters to Point of Sale Communications, and only if they meet our Highest Nutritional Standards (HNS). Previously, we allowed this also in Marketing Communications.
- We’re limiting the use of gifts, toys, premiums and giveaways to kids under 12 to our point of sales communications, and only if the product they are linked to complies with our Highest Nutritional Standards. These gifts, toys, premiums and giveaways must also have an educational purpose or health message.
- We won’t permit Marketing Communications of our brands and products in primary and secondary schools. Previously, this was limited to primary schools only.
- We have clear definitions of ‘Marketing Communications’ and ‘Point of Sale Communications’. Our Marketing Communications include both appeal and placement. Our Point of Sale Communications are important to help parents and caregivers select products that are suitable for children at the point of sale.
Read the full set of principles in the downloads section.
Our “Responsibly Made for Kids” promise
The implementation of our specific marketing & advertising to children principles will be led by our global ice cream category. As a global ice cream maker, we seriously consider the role and impact we have to ensure that everyone can enjoy a little joyous treat from time to time.
What is "Responsibly Made For Kids"?
It is Wall’s mission to offer permissible treats that empower parents and caregivers to make better choices that also bring happiness, joy and excitement to their kids.
Wall’s wants to support parents and kids to make good choices, especially in the challenging context of rise in childhood obesity, the impact of social media and the vast number of products to choose from.
To achieve that, Wall’s is stepping forward making a clear promise that is built around three key fundamentals: Responsibly Communicated, Responsibly Sold and Responsibly Developed.
Read the full Responsibly Made For Kids Promise from Wall’s (PDF | 882KB).
We have committed to voluntarily restrict all marketing communications directed primarily at children under the age of six years. We applied this measure because of increasing evidence showing that children below six do not have the cognitive ability to distinguish between advertising/marketing and programming.
For children under 12 years of age, research has also established a causal relationship between marketing and advertising and their purchasing behaviour and short-term consumption. For children aged 12 and over, this relationship is much less clear.
Working with others
We’re a founding member of the International Food & Beverage Alliance (IFBA). Through this alliance we engage with bodies like the World Health Organization on responsible advertising to children, nutrition labelling and product reformulation.
Since 2008, we’ve played a major role in promoting industry-wide voluntary initiatives to advocate responsible marketing of foods and beverages. Companies who sign up to these industry pledges promise not to advertise products that do not meet strict nutritional criteria.
We also support regional pledges such as EU Pledge – see the full EU Pledge in the download section. In the US, we support the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, which came into effect in January 2020. And in Argentina, from October 2019, we have complied with the Marketing to Kids (M2K) Pledge.