Food and Beverage Brands that Market to Children and Adolescents on the Internet

Brandweek magazine’s 2004 “Superbrands” yearly report features a list of America's top 2,000 brands using the highest amount of advertising money in 2004. A sample of 130 food and beverage brands were obtained from this list for a content analysis of branded Web sites aimed at children and adolescents.

The study found that nearly half of the Web sites contained a designated children’s area, with 92 percent featuring interactive components and 85 percent featuring advergames. The marketing techniques often included brand spokescharacters with whom children could relate featured across the Web and television. Additionally, the Web sites often featured online stores where visitors could purchase branded games or collectibles. Only 13 percent of the brands with designated children’s areas on their Web site met the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity (NANA) nutrition criteria.

Shown to be a powerful and successful tool, this study notes that it would be beneficial for nutritional professionals to encourage the use of online advertising techniques for healthy food choices for children.