Client Alert: FTC to Examine Food Marketing to Children and Teens

Date: Jun 04, 2010

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is preparing to issue Section 6(b) orders (subpoenas) to 48 food and beverage manufacturers, distributors, and marketers and quick service restaurant companies requesting information on marketing activities and expenditures targeting kids and teens for the year 2009. The FTC will also request nutritional information for food and beverage products marketed to kids and teens in 2006 and 2009 to evaluate possible changes in the nutritional content and variety of foods. The information collected will form the basis for an FTC report to Congress. The FTC recently submitted its proposed information collection to the Office of Management and Budget for review, and is seeking comments on the proposed information collection through June 24, 2010. It is anticipated that the FTC will issue the orders in the late July/ early August timeframe.

The FTC issued similar orders to 44 companies in 2007 covering 2006 marketing activities and expenditures, but did not request nutritional information. Products covered by the FTC's 2007 orders, which are expected to be covered by the 2010 orders, include: breakfast cereals; snack foods; candy and frozen desserts; dairy products; baked goods; prepared foods and meals; carbonated beverages; fruit juice and non-carbonated beverages; restaurant foods; and fruits and vegetables. Gum products were excluded.

As in 2007, the FTC will examine: categories of foods marketed to kids and teens, marketing techniques and expenditures, nature of activities, marketing to specific gender, race, ethnicity, or income levels, and company research relating to the marketing of food and beverage products. Categories of reportable expenditures include television, print, and radio; website, Internet, and digital advertising; word-of mouth and viral advertising; product packaging and retail promotion; movie and video promotion; use of premiums; product placements, character licensing, and cross-promotions; athletic sponsorships; celebrity endorsements; and in-school marketing.

For more information on food advertising, contact Sheila A. Millar at millar@khlaw.com, or by phone at (202) 434-4143, or Tracy P. Marshall at marshall@khlaw.com, or by phone at (202) 434-4234.