Since 2010, Burger King and other fast food restaurants have become more focused on marketing healthier food choices for children, such as apple slices and milk instead of fries and soda. That’s an admirable goal, one which most parents would agree with wholeheartedly. But does simply offering healthier choices make much difference if the television ads depicting these fresh new items do not deliver the correct perception?
A research team from Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center in New Hampshire conducted a study which showed children television ads from Burger King and similar restaurants, featuring healthier food options. The kids, aged from three to seven, were shown ads with pictures of the new items, like apple slices and milk. The Burger King ads, which aired between July 2010 and June 2011, were marketed on Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, as well as other cable networks which appeal to children.
The study showed the Burger King and McDonald’s ads were confusing. Only half the kids correctly identified the images of milk in the ads, and a mere ten percent recognized the Burger King apple slices. Most of the children had the wrong impression of the apples, believing instead that they were French fries. This is not surprising, considering the Burger King apple slices are cut in the same style as fries, and come in a similar box.
Dr. James Sargent, lead author and co-director of the Cancer Control Research Program, has this to say about the Burger King images: “Burger King’s depiction of apple slices as ‘Fresh Apple Fries’ was misleading to children in the target age range. The advertisement would be deceptive by industry standards, yet their self-regulation bodies took no action to address the misleading depiction.”
The YouTube video below shows the kids watching the images and attempting to identify the products.
This is not the only study conducted regarding marketing strategies used by Burger King and other fast food companies that are directed toward children. Dr. Sargent performed a previous study that showed young ones are prone to develop brand loyalty through marketing that focuses on toys, such as those that are found in the Burger King kids meal.
Childhood obesity has become widespread in the United States. Medical News Today reports that the Center for Disease Control has revealed that, over the course of the last three decades, childhood obesity has doubled. Burger King has rolled out these fresher, healthier options in the attempt to combat this growing concern. But if the Burger King marketing campaign does not effectively reach the young consumers they are directed toward, then are these new choices changing anything at all?
What do you think about the clarity of the Burger King images seen in this video?
[Image via Google]