Unilever has laid out a fresh commitment to not target any children under the age of 16 with its marketing. The move will see it stop working with celebrities and social media influencers who are themselves under 16 or whose fanbase is largely under that age.
It’s a significant move for the FMCG giant. Though the UK has strict marketing rules for the food and beverage industry when it comes to children, most countries only restrict marketing to children under 13 years old.
Unilever updated its policies for marketing to children in 2020, when it said it would stop marketing and advertising foods and refreshments to children under the age of 12 in traditional media, and under the age of 13 via social media channels.
However, the company has now said it wants to “raise the bar on responsible marketing” to a minimum age of 16 years old across both traditional and social media globally.
It is planning for all brands across its food and refreshment portfolio to have adopted the following principles by 2023. This will include the marketing for products including Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream and Unilever’s Wall’s portfolio, which has Calippo, Twister and Cornetto in its range.
Not targeting children under 16 years old with any marketing or social media communications
Not collecting or storing data on children under 16
Not using influencers, celebrities or social media stars who are under the age of 16 or primarily appeal to children under the age of 16
Providing clear and prominent disclosure of provisions to influencers and limiting child appeal to influencer content
Continuing to refrain from promoting brands or products in schools, with the exception of participation in educational campaigns, when specifically requested
Matt Close, president of ice-cream, Unilever, explained: “Recognizing the power that social media and influencer marketing can have on children’s choices, we believe it’s important to raise the bar on responsible marketing to a minimum age of 16 years old across both traditional and social media.
“By making these changes, our goal is to continue to reduce children’s exposure to advertising from the food and beverage industry, and instead support parents to select appropriate treats, to be enjoyed from time to time.”