hul: HUL not to target children under 16 in Ad campaigns

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Hindustan Unilever (HUL), the country’s single largest advertiser, will stop marketing and advertising its entire range of foods and beverages to children under the age of 16 from next year, amid increased scrutiny on how foods and beverages companies market products high in sugar, salt and fat to young consumers.

This includes its foods brands Kwality Walls and Magnum ice-cream, Knorr soups, instant noodles and ready-to-cook mixes, Kissan jams, squash and ketchup, and Horlicks health drink. “Unilever will stop marketing and advertising its foods and refreshment to children under 16 years old globally. This includes our food and ice-cream brands in India,” an HUL spokesperson said in response to ET’s query.

Ad agency executives, who requested not to be named, said they have already been sounded off by HUL brand teams to start reworking the advertising.

The clampdown includes not targeting under-16s with any marketing or social media communications, not to collect store data about them, not to use influencers or celebrities who are either kids themselves or appeal to children to promote its food portfolio, provide clear and prominent disclosures of provisions to influencers and limit child appeal to influencer content, and refrain from promoting brands or products in schools, with the exception of participation in educational campaigns when specifically requested.

The move will be applicable to all traditional and social media platforms, and comes into effect from January 1, 2023, according to the company.

Calling the move a dramatic one, Rohit Ohri, chairman at ad agency FCB Group India, said: “I’m not sure this would really curb consumption, but yes, it would curb influence.” He said the move targeting children under 12 years works well since they are impressionable. “But beyond 12, it may be a little academic, as the teenager bracket works differently and they tend to idolise what 18-plus people do,” he said. Social commentator Santosh Desai said the impact of the move, directionally correct, would depend on how the restrictions would be implemented. “Materially, how much this will impact consumption choices among teens would be a grey area,” he said.

So far, the country’s biggest consumer goods maker had been restricting marketing and advertising to children under 12 years, similar to most foods and beverages companies such as Mondelez.



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