Schools Should Remain Advertising-Free Zones
16 October, 2003
Schools should remain advertising-free zones, say parents
McDonald's has been singled out by parents for the worst advertising of food or drink that's aimed at children in the first ever New Zealand Children's Food Awards, held at Parliament's Grand Hall today.
McDonald's advertising in schools has won the Badvertising Banter award for encouraging children to pester their parents for food and drink that they perceive as cool. It was closely followed by the McDonald's Sarah Ulmer 'Eat Smart Be Active' advertisements promoting McDonald's as a healthy eating choice.
"Parents are angry at the way McDonald's and other corporations have infiltrated our schools to market their products to a captive audience of children," said Green MP Sue Kedgley, Food Awards organiser.
"They advertise in school diaries, brand sports equipment with their logo, run reading programmes which reward children with a voucher from their local McDonald's restaurant and give children McDonald's bookmarks to record their progress.
"By allowing large corporations like McDonald's to advertise in schools, educators give children the implicit message that they endorse these products, and that high fat, low nutrition foods are normal and healthy.
"Schools that allow food corporations to advertise foods of low nutritional value are undermining efforts to improve the diet of our children and compromising nutritional principles for financial gain," Ms Kedgley said.
"If we are trying to tackle the childhood obesity epidemic and improve the food our children eat we must end this insidious practice."
Ms Kedgley called on schools to stop the practice of allowing food corporations to advertise their products in schools, classrooms and sports fields. "Schools should be advertising and marketing free zones," she said.
Typical comments from parents were those like Shaun Scott's, which asked: "We don't allow cigarette smoking or advertising in schools - why allow junk food advertising?"
Lena Hanlon commented: "My vote is for the seedy direct-to-kids approach of advertising in the actual school grounds, on stationery etc. [It's] sad that education is under-funded enough to tempt some less committed schools."