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Appetite. 2012 Apr;58(2):658-64. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2011.11.017. Epub 2011 Nov 22.

Persuasive techniques used in television advertisements to market foods to UK children.

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Kissileff Laboratory for the Study of Human Ingestive Behaviour, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Liverpool, Eleanor Rathbone Building, Bedford Street South, Liverpool L69 7ZA, UK.


The aim of this study was to quantify the nature and extent of use of persuasive marketing techniques in television advertisements (adverts) to promote foods to children. Popular UK commercial television channels broadcasting children's/family viewing were recorded for 2 days (6 am-10 pm) every month in 2008 and recordings were screened for adverts. Eighteen thousand eight hundred and eighty eight adverts were for food and these were coded for peak/non-peak children's viewing time and representation of core (healthy)/non-core (unhealthy)/miscellaneous foods. The analysis assessed use of persuasive appeals, premium offers, promotional characters (brand equity and licensed characters), celebrity endorsers and website promotion in food adverts. Promotional characters, celebrity endorsers and premium offers were used more frequently to promote non-core than core foods, even on dedicated children's channels. Brand equity characters featured on a greater proportion of food adverts than licensed characters. A food brand website was promoted in a third of food adverts (websites are not covered by the statutory regulation on food advertising). This extensive analysis of television adverts demonstrated that the use of persuasive marketing techniques to promote unhealthy foods was extensive in broadcasting popular with children despite regulations. Further studies should incorporate an analysis of the content of websites promoted during food adverts.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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