BBB National Programs Insights

Companies Agree to Strengthen their Children’s Advertising Commitments with CFBAI’s Updated Core Principles

The nation’s 19 leading food, beverage, and quick service restaurant companies today have agreed to strengthen their voluntary commitments for responsible food marketing to children with the adoption of the BBB National Programs Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) 2021 Core Principles. These principles now more strictly define what constitutes a child-directed audience and formally expand the definition of media coverage to include YouTube and influencer communications.

Participants have agreed to implement these improvements by January 1, 2021.

“CFBAI and its participants have consistently demonstrated a commitment to helping address childhood obesity,” said Maureen Enright, vice president of CFBAI. “The 2021 Core Principles reaffirm the program’s mission of improving the children’s food advertising landscape.”

Under CFBAI’s Core Principles, participating companies agree to advertise only foods or beverages that meet CFBAI’s Uniform Nutrition Criteria or to not advertise foods at all in child-directed advertising across a wide variety of digital and print platforms. CFBAI participants also commit to not advertising branded foods or beverages to children in elementary schools, even foods that meet the nutrition criteria. 

 

CFBAI Core Principles

 

The 2021 guidelines have been expanded to specifically cover advertising on open-access platforms with child-directed content or channels, such as YouTube, and require that if child-directed influencer communications are used, they will promote only foods that meet CFBAI’s Nutrition Criteria. Although CFBAI’s Core Principles always have applied to online advertising, this enhancement reflects ongoing changes in the children’s media environment and provides greater transparency regarding the application of participants’ commitments.

For measured media like television, CFBAI defines “child-directed” by reviewing the percentage of children under age 12 in the audience. Under the 2021 guidelines the required threshold is now stricter, defining any program with an audience of 30% or more children as child directed. (Some CFBAI participants already apply a 30% threshold or even 25%.)  

The 2021 Core Principles also incorporate CFBAI’s Category-Specific Uniform Nutrition Criteria, 2nd edition, which updated the program’s nutrition criteria in September 2018, and which were implemented in January 2020.