Digital food marketing using influencers; February 2019; The Norwegian Consumer Council
The Norwegian Consumer Council has for many years been working to reduce pressure on children and young people from the marketing of unhealthy food and drink. The Consumer Council along with a number of other organisations voiced their support when in 2012 the Norwegian health authorities proposed a ban on the marketing of products high in fat, sugar and salt to children under the age of 18. However, the authorities chose to enter into an agreement with the food industry to establish a stricter self-regulation regime, the Food and Drink Industry Professional Practices Committee (MFU). The Consumer Council has been critical of the scheme as we believe its code of conduct fails to provide children and young people with the necessary protections against the marketing of products that increase the risk of obesity and of adopting eating habits that do not promote well-being and healthy development.
Since the launch of the MFU in 2014 the Consumer Council has seen it as an important task to produce evidence that the current legislation does not sufficiently protect children and young people against the marketing of unhealthy food and drink, that the lack of protection for children and adolescents over the age of 13 makes this group especially vulnerable to marketing in social media.
The Consumer Council has filed complaints about a number of marketing campaigns with the MFU, and has carried out surveys, including of teenagers, on marketing in social media. This report provides evidence of how children and young people are being subjected to subtle marketing content in social media and how the food industry uses Norwegian YouTubers to promote their products in highly sophisticated ways. We will also demonstrate how Norway is beginning to fall behind other countries in terms of regulating marketing. The report can therefore be seen as a message to the authorities, which have the ultimate responsibility for giving children and young people adequate protection against the marketing of unhealthy food and drink.