Heart & Stroke campaign targets the effects on marketing food and drinks to young children

By Laurie Fullerton | Freelance Writer

May 30, 2017 | 3 min read

In an attempt to rally support to stop marketing unhealthy food and beverages to Canadian children, the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada tackled both the serious issue of marketing unhealthy food to children while taking a swipe at the multi-million dollar marketing campaigns that aim to reach them.

As an illustration and to make a point, the Heart & Stroke Foundation uses a new (and entirely fictional) advertising agency called "16 and Under" that is meant to only create ads targeting kids. A video showcases how the 'agency' finds it so easy to manipulate kids that most of the ad executives are playing golf in their offices or have their feet on their desks coming up with new ways to push sugar onto kids.

At "16 and Under", agency employees proudly describe the various tactics they devise, from bright logo designs to catchy jingles.

They state that “the great thing about marketing to kids is there are new ones being born everyday," and we "know that the more sugar they eat, the more demanding and outrageous their behavior gets." The goal of the Heart & Stroke campaign is to start a conversation with parents about the seriousness of marketing unhealthy food and beverages to children and the need to support parents in making healthier choices.

"Our mission is to help kids develop healthy eating and lifestyle habits that will follow them into adulthood," says Yves Savoie, chief executive officer, Heart & Stroke. "But the truth is that advertising to children – especially ads for unhealthy food and beverages – is negatively impacting their health. It's time we followed Quebec's lead and banned this kind of marketing directed to kids in all provinces. It's interesting to note that the child obesity rates in Quebec are considerably lower than anywhere else in Canada."

The integrated campaign includes out of home (OOH) digital and social creative, that drive back to Heart & Stroke's landing page 16andunder.ca/16ansetmoins.ca. There, visitors are encouraged to watch and share the digital film, and are provided with alarming statistics on how food and beverage marketing is directly targeting our youth, and how this is affecting their health.

Canadians can also learn more about federal legislation that's currently before Parliament (and which the campaign supports), calling for a federal restriction on food and beverage marketing to children and youth.

"Childhood obesity rates have tripled in the last 30 years, and advertising has a role in that," adds Craig. "Marketers know that 90% of food and beverage purchases are driven by kids; they rely on 'persuasion power', also known as the 'nag factor' as kids pester their parents for certain products. This campaign is meant to rally support around the issue for the sake of Canada's kids."

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