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September 09, 2011

PRSA: Transparency Is Best When Marketing to Children — The Guardian Letter to the Editor

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) had a letter to the editor of The Guardian published Sept. 9, 2011, in response to an Aug. 26 op-ed by Sarah Ditum that advocated for more stringent regulations of how companies market food to children. Writing in the The Guardian, PRSA Chair and CEO Rosanna M. Fiske, APR, advocates for increased transparency in how food is marketed to children in order to help parents and their children make more informed purchasing decisions.

The Guardian Letters, Sept. 9, 2011

While skeptics often lament the state of marketing to children, we believe businesses can be a positive partner in the effort to engender more informed consumers. Much of that effort should encompass transparency in how food is marketed to children (Supermarket tantrum test, Aug. 26). When marketers and communicators are transparent in how they communicate the qualities of their food products, and provide customers — both adults and children — with the information they need to make informed decisions about their purchases, then both parties benefit.
While we don't necessarily agree with Ditum's statement that "advertisers are fearsomely effective at finding the triggers to make children want whatever inappropriate thing is being sold,” her broader point that a greater understanding by consumers of how marketers target them and their children is well-taken. Again, that should begin with transparency from businesses who market to children, helping them understand the value of proper nutrition and how their food products can fit into a balanced diet.
Efforts made in New York City by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to compel restaurants to transparently present the calorie count of their food items is the type of corporate disclosure we encourage. It is only when businesses are forthright in their public relations and marketing efforts that consumers' trust in their products is enhanced. In doing so, we can help today's children become the next generation of informed decision makers.
Rosanna M. Fiske
Chair and CEO
Public Relations Society of America
New York, NY, US

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