‘Advergames’ A FRESH Front In Fight Against Childhood Obesity

Jennifer Harris, a mature research scientist and director of marketing initiatives at the Rudd Center and research scientist at UConn’s Center for Health, Intervention, and Prevention. Unlike 30-second ads on TV, the videos and top quality games posted on digital mass media are meant to employ children for an extended amount of time.

Harris, a former international marketing executive for American Express with a doctorate in social psychology, is responsible for the Rudd Center’s research initiatives to comprehend the extent and impact of children’s exposure to food advertising. She says the methods companies are employing are based on the latest consumer psychology now.

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At one time, companies used advertising exclusively to promote that which was in their products – to show how good something likes or how healthy it was for you, she says. But lately, companies have been producing ads that are meant to resonate with consumers on a deeper psychological level. The intention of the ad is to produce good feelings; hyping the actual product is supplementary.

Coca-Cola, for instance, has launched a advertising campaign called “Open Happiness.” McDonald’s requires a similar approach with its “I’m Loving It” campaign. Creating those kinds of positive organizations is suitable for adults, who’ve the capacity to rationally measure the advertising for what it is and bother making a choice. Children though, are different.

Most disturbing to Harris is the actual fact that some companies are encouraging children to spread the term about their products among their friends. Rudd analysts like Harris and other advocates continue steadily to make inroads in the battle to avoid companies from advertising unhealthy products to children. But progress, admittedly, has been progressive.

In response to public pressure, companies like McDonald’s, Burger King, Coca-Cola, and General Mills have pledged to self regulate their industry by signing up for the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, or CFBAI. The initiative is designed to shift the mix of foods promoted to children under 12 to encourage healthier options. When asked for advice about what parents can do to overcome the new digital tendency 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 tv from babies and toddlers until as past due as possible.

Research has shown that children as young as two and three are being exposed to the same amount of television as six- and seven-year-olds, she says. Even if the children are viewing child-based networks like Nickelodeon, the advertising still seeps in. She suggests offering young 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 advertisements viewed per year by children and an additional 535 advertisements for adolescents. In ’09 2009, 1 approximately.2 million children ages 6 to 11 visited food company websites that contained games.