- Danone is the leading company in this Category, with a score of 8.5 out of 10. Unilever, Nestle and PepsiCo demonstrate reasonably good commitments, auditing and disclosure practices and score about 7.0. However, as ATNI does not measure a company’s actual marketing activity for any particular market, it is not able to determine the extent to which companies adhere to their commitments in any market.
- Five other companies scored reasonably well overall (i.e. above 4) reflecting their relatively consistent application of industry association pledges, which harmonises performance to some degree.
- Three companies (Wahaha, Tingyi and Lactalis) do not disclose any commitments for responsible marketing either to all consumers or to children and score 0. The performance and commitments for the remaining ten companies were weak.
- FrieslandCampina, Grupo Bimbo, Nestle and General Mills all improved their ranking by three positions relative to the 2013 Global Index, while Kraft dropped 12 positions and Coca- Cola dropped six positions.
Commitments to responsible marketing
- Similar to 2013, most companies have either one overarching policy or two separate policies for responsible marketing to all consumers and marketing to children, and/or have committed to adhere to the pledges of industry associations. Many adhere to industry associations’ responsible marketing pledges at the international, regional or national level, such as those of the ICC, International Food and Beverage Alliance (IFBA), Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) or the EU Pledge, and/or mirror these standards in their own policies. Some companies make additional commitments, which is commendable.
- The pledges restricting marketing to children are not uniform in strength or scope, and none meet the best practice standards set out in the ATNI methodology. The key weaknesses include:
- Not all pledges are applicable across all media and forms of promotion.
- Some pledges lack a commitment to corrective action.
- Not all pledges restrict or ban advertising in or near secondary schools or places where children gather.
- Companies’ policies to restrict marketing to children tend to be stronger than those directed to all consumers, demonstrating an awareness of the need to address alarming levels of overweight and obese children and increasing levels of diet-related chronic diseases among children.
- Sixteen companies commit either to not advertise any products to children under-12 (where they make up 35% or more of the audience), or to restrict their marketing to children under-12 to healthy products only. However, no companies commit to responsible marketing practices for children over-12. This is a concern, as children over 12 are exposed to a great deal of marketing for less healthy products and can be significantly influenced by it.
- As noted in the findings for Category B, only two companies were able to provide data on the percentage of their products that are healthy enough to be marketed to children in different regions. Only five companies use an NPS to determine whether products meet a healthy threshold that allows them to be marketed to children. This indicates that few companies are able to demonstrate how their responsible marketing policies are applied in practice and makes it difficult to determine which companies have made the greatest strides in improving the healthiness of products that children eat.
- Companies perform most poorly on indicator ‘D2’ regarding auditing compliance with their policies geared towards all consumers, and disclosure of compliance. This indicates that companies’ approach to auditing compliance of marketing commitments to children are significantly more robust than audits for compliance with marketing commitments for all consumers. In the case of general marketing policies, the vast majority of audits are conducted in-house. Audits for compliance with policies on marketing to children tend to be third party assessments by an independent auditor appointed by the pledge organization.
- Progress has been made in disclosure particularly, with more companies now publishing their policies. However, scores decreased in other key areas, such as the type of media covered by marketing commitments for all consumers and commitments to corrective action when incidents of noncompliance for marketing to children are found.
- ATNF intended to evaluate companies’ spending on marketing healthy products to adults and children, however too few companies were able to provide this information to complete this analysis.
Marketing to all consumers
- Adopt a comprehensive global policy: Those companies that have not yet adopted a comprehensive global policy on responsible marketing should do so, and publish it. At a minimum, the policy should follow the key pledges contained in the ICC General Code and Framework for Responsible Food and Beverage Marketing Communications.
- Engage independent auditors to assess compliance with marketing commitments for all consumers: Companies generally take part in or audit the compliance for their commitments on responsible marketing to children with greater rigor than they do for the more general marketing commitments that cover all consumers. Companies should also commission independent audits of their compliance with these policies and make compliance rates public.
Marketing to children
- Adopt a comprehensive global policy: Those companies that have not yet adopted a global policy on responsible marketing to children should do so, and publish it. At a minimum, the policy should be applicable to children under-12, apply when children make up more than 25% of a general audience, should be global in scope, set out how various marketing techniques will be used, and prohibit marketing in or near primary or secondary schools or other places where children gather.
- Strengthen existing policies: Companies with a policy that does not meet best practice should seek to strengthen the policy. For example, they should ensure that the policy is globally applicable and includes all forms of marketing – especially for channels for which exceptions are often made, such as point-of-sale, on packaging and new media.
- Underpin marketing practice with an appropriate NPS:Companies should use a robust NPS which meets the criteria set out in criteria ‘B2’ to define which products can be marketed to children across all markets. Currently only five companies use such a system.
- Adopt emerging best practice relating to online marketing: Companies should clearly set out the tools they use to ensure that online marketing is appropriately targeted and designed to deter children under-12 (or the age threshold of their policy) from viewing marketing designed for older children or adults.
- Take part in regular annual independent audits: All companies should take part in robust annual audits of compliance, either through an industry body-commissioned independent audit or one commissioned separately. Such audits should cover a wide range of markets, both developed and developing.
- Publish individual audit results: To demonstrate their commitment to fully implement the policy and their willingness to be held accountable, companies should make their individual compliance rates to traditional and new media publically available.
- Report on taking corrective action: Companies should commit to, and report on, how they have taken corrective actions when non-compliance is identified.