Unilever to stop marketing food and drinks to children

unilever brands

Unilever said it will stop marketing food and beverages to children under the age of 16.

The global food, beauty and home care products giant made the announcement as part of an update to its global principles for responsible marketing to children, raising standards for an increasingly digital world.

Unilever food marketing changes

The London headquartered company, said it will stop marketing food and beverages to children under the age of 16 years old across both traditional media and social media. 

Currently, in most countries in the world, the food and beverage industry restricts marketing to children under 13 years old.

Unilever’s enhanced principles, which it claimed are industry-leading, include:

  • Not targeting children under 16 years old with any marketing or social media communications.
  • Not collecting or storing data on children under 16.
  • Not using influencers, celebrities or social media stars who are under the age of 16 or primarily appeal to children under the age of 16.
  • Providing clear and prominent disclosure of provisions to influencers and limiting child appeal to influencer content.
  • Continuing to refrain from promoting our brands or products in schools, with the exception of participation in educational campaigns, when specifically requested.

The principles will apply across Unilever’s food and refreshment portfolio, which includes ice cream. 

The deadline for brands to comply with these further enhanced principles is January 2023.

Matt Close, President Ice Cream, Unilever said: “Recognising the power that social media and influencer marketing can have on children’s choices, we believe it’s important to raise the bar on responsible marketing to a minimum age of 16 years old across both traditional and social media.

By making these changes, our goal is to continue to reduce children’s exposure to advertising from the food and beverage industry, and instead support parents to select appropriate treats, to be enjoyed from time to time.”

In 2003, Unilever was one of the first companies to apply specific measures for the marketing of its food and refreshment products to children, and the company has continued to lead in adopting new and improved principles. 

The last major update was in 2020, when Unilever announced it will stop marketing and advertising foods and refreshments to children under the age of 12 in traditional media, and under the age of 13 via social media channels.

Unilever’s marketing and point of sale communications comply with all relevant country laws and regulations, as well as self-regulatory codes.

In some countries, including for example the UK and Portugal, existing codes and laws mean that these new principles are already either partially met, fully met or exceeded.