The Federal Trade Commission’s Proposed Ban on Marketing to Children in the Late 1970s
During the 1970s, the Federal Trade Commission (FTA) proposed the regulation of marketing and advertising practices to children. The circumstances that led to the proposed ban included increased advertisement of sugary foods and beverages to children through television especially to very young kids who could not understand the intention of businesses selling such products(Harvey 607). Besides, the advertised delicious foodstuffs led to high dental risks. Since people develop their teeth when young, exposing such products to children would ruin their future. The kids do not have an understanding of the long-term problems resulting from the consumption of these foodstuffs and drinks whereby their satisfaction compromises their dental health. Some of the illnesses associated with the consumption of junk foods include diabetes, high blood pressure, and chronic heart problems.
After some time, people eventually opposed the ban. It was opposed based on the argument that the marketing practices were not aimed at influencing the children, but rather, all potential buyers. Opponents also, argued that the commercials could not control the manner in which people consume such products because people like sugary things. Moreover, marketing of the foods leads to improved performance of businesses since it creates awareness for potential buyers, the opponents argued. In their view, regulating the practice would result in poor business performance. The companies promised to self-regulate and control how they advertise the foods(Harvey, 607). The argument posed to justify the regulation was that it is the duty of the government to protect the consumers(Aspray, Royer and Ocepek 27). The FTC’s aim was to create mandatory nutrition standards for the sugary products advertised to children, but not to forbid their production and consumption. The advertisers were supposed to limit the terms they use when advertising, such as “Sugar is fun”, since these messages would increase the intensity of influence on kids. It would be necessary for the adverts not to be aired during kid’s programs. Children are addicted to watching television including the commercial advertisements, and they have the mentality that the characters marketing the products are real and live in the TV thus wanting to imitate them(Niesen 32). It is evident that children know very little about their health and nutrition. Thus, they require assistance from the adults on how to manage their health. The practice of television advertisements of sweetened foods to children is the same as entering into agreements with them, which is unacceptable.
On the other hand, the argument for the deregulation was that marketing these goods should not be synchronized. Congress supported the move towards the limitation of the FTC’s power towards the restriction of the marketing practices to children(Harvey, 607). The affected companies claimed that they were not advertising unhealthy foods and drinks; rather, it was an individual’s consumption behaviors that were unhealthy. The resolution eventually affected the children’s media as seen today whereby there is much advertisement of sugary food and beverages on television. The proposed ban was only effective for a while, and soon afterward advertisers gained freedom of advertising all their products as long as the producers paid for the adverts (Aspray, Royer and Ocepek 32). A majority of the children are exposed to television advertisements and the moment they discover some sweet products through adverts, they request their parents to buy such for them. Due to elevated media adverts on these foods, there is increased consumption of junk foods, leading to high levels of childhood obesity and other health problems resulting from the consumption of too much sugar.
Aspray, William., Royer, George and Ocepek, Melissa.. “Protecting Children from Obesity: A History of Television and Internet Food Advertising Regulation in the United States.” In W Aspray, G Royer and MG Ocepek. Formal and Informal Approaches to Food Policy. London: Springer International Publishing, 2014,23-59. Print.
Harvey, Andrew. “A Proposal for Congressionally Mandated Federal Regulation of Child-Directed Food and Beverage Television Advertisements to Combat Childhood Obesity.” Health Matrix, 23 (2013): 607. Print.
Niesen, Molly. “The Little Old lady Has Teeth: The US Federal Trade Commission and the Advertising Industry, 1970–1973.” Advertising & Society Review, 12.4 (2012). Web.