Leading Companies Announce Singapore’s First Advertising Pledge


Fourteen of Singapore’s leading food and beverage companies have today pledged to change the way they advertise to children. This Responsible Advertising to Children Pledge is the first of its kind in Singapore and forms part of an ongoing commitment by the food and beverage industry to support healthy, active lifestyles.

Pledge signatories Coca-Cola, Ferrero, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Kerry, Mars, McCain, McDonald’s, Mondelēz, Nestlé, Pepsico, FrieslandCampina, Suntory and Unilever have agreed to only advertise products that meet agreed nutritional criteria based on accepted scientific evidence or applicable national and international dietary guidelines to children under 12 years of age or not advertise to children under 12 years of age at all.

They have also committed not to engage in any product communication in primary schools unless requested by, or agreed with, the school administration for educational purposes or to promote active, healthy living.

Individual Company commitments will come into effect on 1 January 2013.

This Responsible Advertising to Children Pledge is designed to reduce advertising of foods to children that are high in saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, sugars or salt, with a view to helping parents and teachers reinforce positive messages on balanced diets and healthy lifestyles.

The advertising Pledge made today is one strand of a wider commitment by the food and beverage industry to promote healthier lifestyles in Singapore. Companies are joining forces with other stakeholders to adopt a multi-faceted approach that spans physical activity; nutrition labeling; nutrition education; as well as food reformulation and innovation.

Examples of this in Singapore include:

  • Coca-Cola’s “Step With It™, Singapore!” an active living programme, now in its 10th year. The programme visits schools every year and creates an opportunity for students and teachers to get active in a fun way, while at the same time educating them on energy balance and adequate hydration for a healthy lifestyle. Nearly 400,000 students and teachers have participated in the programme since it was established in 2003 and it has reached 7 in 10 primary schools in Singapore. 
  • Nestle’s Healthy Kids Programme, implemented in conjunction with the Health Promotion Board (HPB), helps increase nutritional literacy in Singapore schools, teach students healthier cooking and overall promote healthier lifestyles in schools. 
  • McDonald’s has introduced a number of healthy menu choices such as the Corn Cup, Apple Dippers and low-fat high calcium milk in Happy Meals, as well a salad option. It has also changed its cooking oil to a healthier vegetable oil with no trans fat (less than 0.5g per 100g).” . 
Professor Leonard Stevenson, Director of Operations for Food and Human Nutrition at Newcastle University, Singapore, welcomed the proactive industry approach on tackling these complex health challenges.

“The advertising Pledge illustrates that these companies take their responsibility seriously and are prepared to play their role by adopting a self-regulatory approach on these important and challenging issues.”

Also commenting on the Pledge, Ms Gladys Wong, Chief Dietician at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, Singapore said “It is highly commendable that the leading food industries are now pledging in line with WHO guidelines, to stop food and beverage advertisements targeted at our children. Without these ‘advertising distracters’, it will definitely be easier for the dieticians/nutritionists to educate and encourage our children to make healthier dietary choices thus promoting the maintenance of a healthy weight.” 

The World Federation of Advertisers equally welcomed the development. Their Director of Communications, Will Gilroy said that voluntary, industry led self-regulation was yielding positive results in other parts of the world. 

“This type of self-regulation, where companies make clear and measurable commitments and follow them up with independent third-party monitoring, is shown to have led to a tangible and sizeable reduction in children’s exposure to the marketing of certain food types,” he said.

Pledge signatories will publish their individual commitments by 1 January 2013 and regular independent monitoring will be published to demonstrate compliance.


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Note to editors: Copy of the Singapore Food & Beverage Industry Responsible Advertising to Children Pledge

Introduction

The food and beverage industry is committed to advertising products to children in Singapore in a responsible way to support parental efforts to promote healthy lifestyles to their children. We recognise that the special nature and needs of children require particular care and diligence on the part of advertisers.

Our Commitment

This voluntary framework on “Responsible Advertising to Children” has been developed with the aim of helping to support healthy lifestyles. It also aims to reassure consumers that advertisers are behaving responsibly, while providing a transparent process for the monitoring and review of advertising practices.

Core Principles

By signing this Pledge, companies agree to demonstrate that their specific commitments comply with the following minimum criteria in addition to any applicable regulatory or legal requirements. The signatories to this Pledge commit either to:

  • Only advertise certain products that meet company-specific nutrition criteria based on accepted scientific evidence and/or applicable national and international dietary guidelines to children under 12 years. 
OR

  • Not to advertise their products at all to children under the age of 12 years.
The policy covers TV and print advertising, third-party internet and company-owned websites (including corporate and brand-owned websites) directed to children under 12 years.

For the purpose of this policy, “advertising to children under 12 years” means advertising in child-directed media where 35% or more of the audience is under 12 years of age.


  • Additionally, all companies commit not to engage in product marketing communications to students in primary schools, except if requested by, or agreed with, the school administration for specific educational purposes. 

Individual Company Commitments

Participating companies will sign up to this initiative as a minimum voluntary commitment, but may go further if they so wish. The signatory companies will set out their specific commitments on a public website, including individual nutritional standards, if applicable, in order to meet the Core Principles of this initiative.

Compliance and Monitoring


Key criteria will be established for monitoring how the advertising of participating companies is meeting the Core Principles outlined in this initiative. The Companies will commission a study to monitor food and beverage advertising from the commencement of this initiative. This will be repeated periodically.
The purpose of this study will be to measure the participating company’s compliance with this initiative, assess the nature of improvements in performance that may be necessary and to report publicly on the findings.

Implementation


Individual Company Commitments will be published by 1 January 2013.



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